I think we’ve been living in Erskinville for over four years now and there are still restaurants and cafés in our neighbourhood that we are yet to try. One such place is Pasha’s, located a measly 5 minutes from home.
I’ve walked past it a thousand times, stopped and checked out the menu, and admired the smart and traditional decor; even catching glimpse of the belly dancer they have each Friday and Saturday night. I’m not one for theatrics and “cultural” shows so maybe the jiggling girl flicking belly sweat onto diners put me off. Just kidding, I didn’t see it here. I experienced it while dining at one of those Turkish places on Cleveland Street, so it was enough to mimimize my interest in combining food and jiggling bellies.
Attempt 1: After a recommendation and about six months or so, we turned up unannounced on a Friday night, chilled bottle of wine in hand. With trepitation I look around for a girl jiggling her belly. Nothing. Phew. Sadly we’re told they’re booked out and could sit upstairs in what we discover is the less atmospheric room. One big problem. It was full of noisy young uni students out for a party. No thanks. A quick u-turn and we’re outa there.
Attempt 2: A week later we turn up midweek, chilled bottle of wine in hand and find a near empty restaurant. Nice. The main restaurant floor is divided in two. One area filled with tables and chairs and the other low tables and ottomans. Turkish nic-nacs are dotted around all over the place, intricate woven carpets adorn the walls and traditional lamps and pendants add spots of colour to the fairly dim room. A little fancy, shall we say.
The menu is uncomplicated and relatively brief so it makes it easy to find something that appeals; although it all sounds good. To start we go for a couple of plates to have with the complimentary Turkish bread brought out soon after arriving. The pastirma & humus (11) is a generous and creamy mound of chickpea purée topped with a comparibly small fat cigar roll of the thinly-sliced air-dried cured beef. A little more meat would have been nice to go with the much larger portion of humus.
Both of us swooned over the next arrival – Mediterranean style piyaz kofte (12). The little meatballs literally melted on the tongue and were perfectly matched with piyaz, a refreshing and delicious salad of white beans, egg, parsley, red onion and tomato. I could have easily eaten a big bowl of this alone.
The lamb sis (24) soon follows, sitting atop a small-ish mound of rice with a side of spoon salad. The lamb is smoky, tender, well-marinated and perfectly charred and caramelized where it should be. The hunkar begendi (29) – lamb with smoked eggplant – is quite good and I’m loving the soft creamy eggplant with the juicy spiced meat and its juices. The charred green chilli is a nice addition.
For some reason Mr K wanted to make a hasty exit (maybe there was something on Foxtel) but I wanted to linger and have an apple tea (3.5) and perhaps something else sweet. Once our table was cleared I requested my tea and sadly the waiter didn’t offer any dessert options. I could only assume there were none until I later checked out the website of the restaurant and discovered a few items I would have tried had I known about them. Oh well. There’s always next time.