RIGHT DI­REC­TION

Tak­ing over an old ke­bab shop, this Carl­ton North restau­rant serv­ing up top-notch, modern Turk­ish fare is sure to de­light

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Eat Out -

BABAJAN: RE­VIEWED BY DAN STOCK

IT’S al­most hard to imag­ine given it’s one of our hottest din­ing des­ti­na­tions, but not that long ago, Colling­wood’s Smith St re­ally was the bad­lands – culi­nary and other­wise – where ke­babs were the high­est or­der of the day (and night).

Smith St’s gas­tro-evo­lu­tion be­gan when a chef called Is­mail To­sun opened Gi­gibaba, and his modern Turk­ish fare put Colling­wood on the map.

Gi­gibaba is no more, but To­sun is cook­ing again, team­ing up with Kirsty Chi­aplias (ex-worker’s Food Room). Hav­ing taken over an old ke­bab shop in Carl­ton North and given it a brushed con­crete, white-walled makeover, the duo are serv­ing up mod-turk­ish dishes that are worth cross­ing town for. Again.

The food is at once ap­proach­able and clever. It is also af­ford­able, im­pres­sive at ev­ery turn and out­ra­geously de­li­cious.

The simit, dense and slightly sweet sesame-topped bread, is per­fect to swipe through smoky baba ghanoush and nutty hummus, while the saganaki with spiced pears is ev­ery­thing that’s good about pan-fried cheese.

The oc­to­pus is sim­ple perfection. A mound of soft discs the palest of pinks sits upon a creamy cloud of lemony aioli, with sharp vine­gar pickle giv­ing bite.

In the open kitchen you’ll see To­sun on the grill, from which three hefty nuggets of deftly spiced lamb kofte might come, or char-marked su­juk sausage, while the cin­na­mon and star anise-rubbed beef is ten­der as a lul­laby.

The graze-sized plates make for an easy meze meal, though you could double down with pide and lah­ma­cun (Turk­ish pizza) hot from the oven. The minced lamb topped with pars­ley, pine nuts, tomato and onion, though, is al­most too good to share.

A few wines and Efes beer slake lunchtime thirsts, while equally ac­com­plished break­fast is also served.

Babajan has put this pocket of Carl­ton on the map. Set the GPS.

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