Canberra dining institution Ottoman Cuisine has closed its doors after two decades at its Barton address.
It is believed owner and chef Serif Kaya has sold the prime site at 9 Broughton Street, which has had multi-storey development spring up around it in recent years.
The restaurant’s beautiful art deco pavilion and the co-business next door, Barton Cafeteria, are being stripped, with furniture and sentimental objects going to storage.
It had been feared that Mr Kaya was closing the business for good, but the much-loved hatted restaurant won’t be lost to Canberra food lovers with a note posted on its website late yesterday saying it is moving to a new site.
“Ottoman Cuisine is moving to an exciting new location and venue,” it says. “We will announce our opening date in 2022.”
COVID-19 restrictions and then the lockdown had taken their toll on the business, but it is believed Mr Kaya and his wife Gulbahar, who ran the restaurant, had been considering its future at the Barton site.
It had been hoped that the restaurant at Barton could offer a farewell to its customers, but the pandemic intervened.
Mr Kaya started in Manuka, but moved to Barton where the opulent surroundings, courtyards, gardens, water features and fantastic food made Ottoman a fine dining destination.
Its location in the Parliamentary Zone also made it a mecca for Canberra’s movers and shakers in the public service, political elite and diplomatic community, and with its private dining rooms, it became the perfect setting for a power lunch – something a former ANU political science student like Mr Kaya would appreciate.
Ottoman’s creative and modern spin on classic Turkish cuisine was rewarded with an SMH Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat for most of its existence, including two hats in 2018.
A family business, its timeless menu has hardly changed, providing a breadth of dishes to a loyal clientele.
As well, Ottoman’s excellent and discreet service was a testament to its in-house training and something few of its peers could replicate.
Mr Kaya told the Good Food website in 2015 that there was no conscious push to make Turkish food high end.
“We never thought about classifying ourselves as fine dining. We just wanted to create good food and show a different side of Turkish cuisine,” he said.
It was much more than pide bread and kebabs: “It’s a cuisine which is a bridge between Europe and Asia.”
Mr Kaya married into a food-loving family – his father-in-law was the Turkish embassy chef, he calls Gulbahar his most significant influence and his mother-in-law Hatice is praised for her brilliant cooking and resourcefulness in the kitchen.
“They had a great deal of influence on me,” he told Good Food.
Land in Barton, close to Parliament House and government departments, is in high demand with several new commercial developments proposed.
Comment was sought from Mr Kaya.