Crazy for mezze? Love a labneh? The Ottoman Room has developed a loyal following of Middle Eastern food lovers since it opened in November last year – many initially curious to see what lay through the black and gold mosaic archway which links it to the casual street front bar and café, Fat Prince.
What’s on the menu?
Naming this venture Ottoman gave Canadian chef Hunter Moyes licence to experiment and present his interpretation of the many cuisines once under the sprawling Ottoman empire, with strong inspiration from Turkey. His food is truly memorable because of the authentic flavours he creates through the fresh, authentic ingredients sourced from around the globe (including monthly shipments of spices from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar) – and his obvious talent.
In the Middle Eastern spirit, the menu has a focus on sharing options – which is just as well, this food is so good that you won’t be able to claim a dish only for yourself! Mezze is the only place to start and we sampled small plates of Sicilian olives, almond dukkah (an Egyptian dry mix of ground nuts and spices) and date puree, and hummus ($9 each) in three flavours: duck fat and lemon, artichoke with fresh herbs, and sweet potato with chilli.
While it’s not for everyone, the aniseed-based local spirit, raki, is the traditional way to wash this food down, whether served neat or with a side of water. There’s also beers and wine from Jordan and Lebanon (and other regions too), unique spiced raki cocktails and a surprising French chickpea beer Socca Biera ($18) which is a must-try.
The labneh (served simply with pine tree honey and nuts) is house-made, and one of the divine side dishes (from $12) along with black lentil salad (with lashings of cardamom) and sweet and spicy baby carrots. For mains (from $32) the highlights are the saffron and cashew mussels with lamb sausage; and stuffed lamb shoulder with minted pea puree, ras el hanout and sumac jus. Just like the ones used in Istanbul, meats and vegetables are slow cooked overnight in the custom built wood fired earth oven.
The décor in the low-lit room is inspired by the faded glory of palatial mansions – stencilled walls, plush yet mismatched chairs, authentic rugs handpicked from the bazaars and hanging oil lamps evoke the warmth of a Mediterranean Social House. It’s very conducive to long and relaxed dinners with friends you haven’t seen in a while. After all that food, fabulous conversation and what can only be described as an escape from Asia for a couple of hours, we finish with a simple piece of Turkish Delight – sourced straight from Istanbul.
48 Peck Seah St
Open from 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday