Maydanoz is a Aegean Turkish coast restaurant on Carrington Street in Sydney's CBD. There's a vegetarian heavy menu of items from grilled halloumi on a mini charcoal grill, little falafel sandwiches and classic dishes like Imam Bayildi with a baklava ice cream sandwich to finish. There's also indoor and outdoor seating (along the busy bus terminal).
It is a warm Friday night when I am meeting Carla. It was a last minute dinner plan we had made and she had suggested Maydanoz as she produces a lemon paste that chef Michael Chang uses here at Maydanoz and likes to see what they make with it. The restaurant is part of the Efendy and Anason restaurant group. The room has shades of teal and blush pink velvet with an eye catching bar. As for the name Maydanoz? That's Turkish for parsley.
Maydanoz's 18 item menu has only 2 meat dishes (one seafood, one chicken) so it's a great place to take vegetarians (not that either of us are). Neither of us drink much so we go straight into the food (because we both definitely eat a lot!).
Carla has been here already a couple of times and this is one of her favourite dishes. It's from the snack menu and it's a play on Cilbir or Turkish poached eggs. It is a square of crisp Melba toast with garlic yogurt, softly poached halved quail eggs with Marash pepper. The whole mouthful (or two) is all about textural contrasts with a delightfully piquant flavour.
The halloumi kebab is one of my favourite courses of the night. It comes out on a little charcoal grill that ensures that the cheese is so beautifully soft and stretchy for every bite. The halloumi itself is a milder, creamier one and has the most luscious texture while the honey adds a contrasting sweetness and the sesame a bit of light crunch. I really want all of my halloumi coming out on a grill now please and thank you.
The beetroot felafel pockets come to the table looking like mini tacos. The beetroot felafel is cut in half and served in a mini spinach pita with tahini, lettuce and pickles. There's a really appealing balance of flavours and freshness with every bite of these and these are a super tasty vegetarian snack with so much flavour to them.
I always love Imam Bayildi and this one is a beauty. It's also enormous and best made for sharing (as is most of the menu). It's a whole eggplant cooked until soft and pulpy then stuffed with soft tomatoes and bullhorn peppers and loads of parsley, coriander and mint on top. The eggplant is smokey while the sauce is sweet and slightly tangy and be sure to get lots of those fresh herbs in each bite.
After the Imam Bayildi and that delicious sweet and lightly sour sauce we had to order the stone baked bread. It comes out warm and sliced into 4 pieces. There's no Pepe saya butter or any butter as detailed in the menu though (I didn't realise this was missing until I was writing this story so we didn't ask) but the bread itself is warm, crispy edged and delicious.
I did enjoy the cabbage kebab with its intricate layer of cabbage threaded onto a skewer. The cabbage has burnished edges from the charcoal grill and it sits on a bed of mildly spicy harissa labne with coriander and pul biber or Aleppo pepper.
The kingfish collar is one of the two non vegetarian dishes and it is served with sumac dusted white onions, ezme salsa and toum on a bed of soft pita bread. The kingfish is cooked on the grill and is wonderfully luscious - perfect for eating the sticky meat off bones with your hands. And that soft pita with all of those delicious drippings makes for a tasty little sandwich especially with that fluffy garlic toum and onions
We are both really full but wanted to try one dessert. There are three on the menu and they all sound tempting but the waitress's recommendation of the baklava ice cream sandwich wins in the end. It's strikingly beautiful with a collar of vivid green finely ground pistachios around the vanilla ice cream sandwich, buttressed on each end with a multitude of layers of pastry and syrup. It goes without saying that it's very sweet (of course) and I would have loved a flavour to the ice cream like pistachio or a more pronounced vanillaeyness to it.
So tell me Dear Reader, how often do you make impromptu dinner plans? Are you a big drinker?
This meal was independently paid for.
1/50 Carrington St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9262 3161
Sunday to Friday 12–10 pm
Saturday 5–11 pm Sunday