Out with the old. In with the new. King Street’s less visited southern stretch of roadway has had a couple of recent newcomers within the last six months, both replacing long-running food houses that have kept us locals fed when we just can’t be bothered with making a meal at home. The space that was once Curry On King has traded its spices for something a little fishy and just across the road where Bhan Thai did more take-away than eat-in closed its doors to be re-opened as Matee – Turkish Grill Gözleme & Teahouse.
The friendly folks here make you feel instantly welcomed and the first time we stepped foot into the cosy space was just a couple of days after they opened. The tea was free-flowing and complimentary and sitting out the back at tables tiled with patterned colour almost felt like a Turkish holiday. For lunch I chose the lamb shish (16), a traditional plate of charred meat with pilav, bread, tomatoes and charred chilli. A plate of colourful salad came with and was almost too much food for two people when you’re also adding a massive portion of kusbasili pide (10). This light and crispy Turkish “pizza” comes topped with diced lamb, tomato, capsicum and fresh chilli.
On another visit, for dinner, we go for the pide karisik (12.5) that is topped with beef, onion, tomato, capsicum, lamb and parsley. Plus a very tasty serve of adana (18) – skewered and charred ground beef seasoned with red peppers, herbs and spices. This comes on a generous mound of pilav and mixed salad.
On a more recent lunch visit I had just one thing on my mind. The güveç (17). The first time I had this type of dish was in Ürgüp, a small town in the spectacular Cappadocia region of Turkey. One of the most memorable meals of my life. I still remember cracking the seal of charred dough that fused the lid to the base of the pot and getting that first nose-bath of rich steam from the slow-cooked meat and bean stew within. Talk about nirvana!
The dish is named after the clay vessel it’s cooked in and the one at Matee comes in a small clay dish with the choice of veg, chicken or lamb. I go for the lamb and couldn’t help but be disappointed with the size and lack of flavour. Actually the size is fine but the price that matches such a small and simple casserole is questionable. There’s a plethora of vege’s in there as well – mushroom, carrot, eggplant, green beans, tomato and potato and not much seasoning at all.
There’s quite a bit more of the menu I’d like to try. The stuffed capsicum, cabbage rolls and gözleme to name a few. The hummus (5.9) is great, the coffee is thick and strong and comes with a cute dish of coconut-coated Turkish delight and the chocolate baklava is beautiful.