The façade of Stanbuli still has the salmon-coloured paint and signage from a 1950s hair salon, but inside it’s beautifully tiled and decorated. It looks like a mix between a traditional bathhouse and charming a Mediterranean bar.
It’s by Ibrahim Kasif, a ex-Porteño chef (who’s joined in the business by Porteño’s Joe Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz) who wanted to get back to his roots. The venue is a meyhane, the equivalent of a tavern or tapas bar.
The first page of the menu is dedicated to raki mezesi, or mixed plates to have with the aniseed-infused Turkish liquor. These include melon, cheese, olives and cured meats. The stuffed mussels are packed with olive-oil-heavy rice fragrant from a pepper and allspice infusion. The pastirma (Turkish cured beef) is made in-house with chilli, garlic, fenugreek and cumin, then air-dried for several weeks.
For longer evenings mix some Turkish beers and wines with a long list of meze plates and charcoal meats. One thing you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Sydney is the charcoal roasted seftali, a Cypriot-Turk-style lamb and beef kofte wrapped in caul fat (the membrane that surrounds the stomach). The meze ranges from savoury tomato-braised flat beans and smoky eggplant with cucumber and sumac, to pickled octopus and lamb brains with purslane, yoghurt and charcoal grilled olives.