This restaurant takes traditional elements of Turkish cuisine and makes them approachable for a Melbourne market. The food is unfussy; most dishes are based on just a few ingredients treated well.
The calamari stuffed with ezine cheese (white cheese) and ink sells out regularly. There is also a pickled sea bream dish with pear and fennel, and sardine koftas. Lamb cutlets with broad beans and a smoky baba ganoush is one of the restaurant’s larger plates, but if that’s not big enough, with 24 hours’ notice you can have a whole-roasted Bultarra saltbush lamb.
The wine list does an honourable job of shining a light on Turkish wines. Drops from Ankara to Gallipoli are listed alongside Italian, New Zealand and Australian wines – the vast majority of which are available by the glass.
The space is a renovated former office. Diners are welcomed into a casual bar area up front before moving into a more formal dining area where a 22-seat table is at the centre of the space. Concrete floors meet tan seating and banquettes decorated with colourful Turkish-style cushions. A private dining room is also available.
Yagiz is chef Murat Ovaz grandfather’s name. The patriarch is honoured with a portrait by Australian-based street artist Robert Scholton, which watches over diners. And when it’s time for the cheque, your bill arrives in a replica of Yagiz’s passport, which even has his real date and place of birth on it.