9 Broughton Street Barton, Australian Capital Territory 2600
|Opening hours||L Tues-Fri; D Tues-Sat|
|Features||Licensed, BYO, Accepts bookings, Groups, Long lunch, Private dining, Romance-first date, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 6273 6111|
Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012
Ottoman has had a long history at the top end of local dining, and this year has seen a full refit of its oasis in Barton. The space has been redone to ensure natural light and an outdoor view from all the rooms now, with the kitchen sitting in the middle. The refit is moody and subtle, in shades of blue and grey.
The look isn’t the only thing that’s changed. While the refit was underway, Serif Kaya took his senior team to Turkey for a kind of working holiday, to get new ideas and inspiration for the menu. At the time of writing, the results of this pilgrimage were mostly on the specials list, but with any luck, they’ll make their way on to the at la carte menu before long.
A dish of wagyu and king brown dolma captures what we love about the new dishes. Like many dishes at Ottoman, it looks surprisingly simple but the taste and preparation behind what’s on the plate is both impressive and complex. Here, silverbeet plays a role in shaping the dish: the dolma covering is made from silverbeet leaves; the thick white stems of silverbeet form part of the filling, and also pureed to thicken the sauce. Inside are braised king brown mushrooms, with that intense untamed flavour of shiitake or porcini. The wagyu sirloin is tender and carries the supreme flavour we expect from the Japanese breed of cow. In all, a quite beautiful dish for me.
A terrific entree of lamb kofte with cracked wheat reinforces the elegance of the new dishes. You’d think this had been deepfried, but it hasn’t. Instead, a process of rolling and drying the cracked wheat gives a crusty coat to the minced lamb shoulder inside and a wonderful texture to the dish.
A personal favourite for its simplicity is the lamb’s brains, just dusted in flour and panfried with a few spices, a dish for the adventurous diner.
The familiar classics are still here: duck, veal scallops with aleppo chilli, and kingfish skewers, but look out for some of this new inspiration, which shows Ottoman is as much on its game at the top of Canberra dining as it ever was.
Service is a strong point. Managed by Gulbahar Serif, it’s unobtrusive but attentive, confident and well-informed.
How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20