UPDATED: After two decades, Canberra dining institution Ottoman Cuisine is on the move

Ian Bushnell 23 October 2021 19
Ottoman Cuisine

Ottoman Cuisine in Barton has been a dining destination for two decades. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

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.

Chefs

Owner and chef Serif Kaya pictured in 2014 with celebrity chefs Peter Kuruvita, left, and Adam Liaw and Shane Delia. Photo: Ottoman Cuisine/Facebook.

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.

Dining room

The main dining area was a statement of elegance. Photo: Ottoman Cuisine/Facebook.

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.


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19 Responses to UPDATED: After two decades, Canberra dining institution Ottoman Cuisine is on the move
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hracc hracc 12:32 pm 25 Oct 21

This very disappointing as I gave my son a voucher for his birthday at the end of July and he didn’t have time to use it. I have emailed them and the email has bounced back. It would be good if someone know how to contact them or Whether RiotAct could contact them to ask what they are going to do. They could put something on their website.

    Clarence Beale Clarence Beale 1:23 pm 25 Oct 21

    Hi, I apologize that it’s been hard to contact the restaurant recently. It’s been a difficult time. All vouchers will still be honored- they won’t expire due to the shutdown. The email has now been sorted. I believe the website is being updated. Please feel to reach out to info@ottomancuisine.com.au for any further enquiries

Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:06 pm 24 Oct 21

I can recall some great meals there – back in days when I could afford it, that is.

One memorable night when I was at a meeting there with industry colleagues considering the financial impacts of certain new regulations the then Federal Treasurer Peter Costello walked into our private room by mistake and before the penny dropped the chairman of our group yelled out “we are saved, Peter is here!”

He was the best treasurer this country ever had and he obviously knew where the good restaurants were, too.

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 1:25 pm 24 Oct 21

The property the Ottoman Restaurant sits on was sold to ISPT Super Property for an estimated $30 million. ISPT invest in all sorts of property so I would expect an apartment block will be built on the land before long. Rumor has it the owners of Ottoman have been buying up property / shops in Manuka from Belluci’s up towards Palmerston Lane so we may see something from them again in the near future.

Myra Rowling Myra Rowling 10:08 pm 23 Oct 21

And I have a wedding reception booked for December with a large deposit paid. And this is the first i have heard about the Ottoman’s closure.

    hracc hracc 12:33 pm 25 Oct 21

    Have they contacted you at all?

    Clarence Beale Clarence Beale 1:13 pm 25 Oct 21

    Hi Myra, so so sorry to hear about this.
    They will definitely look after you with a refund or a credit. If they haven’t already reached out, please email Gucci info@ottomancuisine.com.au

    rioty rioty 6:44 pm 28 Oct 21

    Good luck finding another venue with less than two months (lack of) notice.

FoodCollective FoodCollective 2:45 pm 23 Oct 21

Wonderful news, and great to hear there will be a re-opening of this Canberran food institution. Congratulations Ottoman Cuisine.

David M David M 9:23 am 23 Oct 21

Like Linda, my wife and I were given a voucher for Christmas. It was a lovely gift and we were saving it for a special occasion in November. When I tried to ring the number on the voucher, it had been disconnected. It is one thing to lose the value of a gift voucher because a business has struggled through the pandemic, one could be forgiving about that, but entirely another when a business has been sold. Very disappointed with the ethics displayed Mr Kaya.

    Colin Byrne Colin Byrne 12:21 pm 23 Oct 21

    David M, you state that the business has been sold, but the article states that only the site has been sold and that the business will be back in action at a new location, the details of which, will be made known in 2022.

    “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.”

    “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.”

    David M David M 2:41 pm 23 Oct 21

    The reopening was not part of the original story which has been amended since my original comment. I sincerely hope they do reopen at a new location. We look forward to eating there, wherever it is.

    David M David M 3:20 pm 23 Oct 21

    And for what it’s worth, it appears a little difficult to amend original comments, even before they are moderated. It would have been helpful to have had the full story in the original version of the story. The proof will be in the reopening.

    hracc hracc 12:35 pm 25 Oct 21

    I have emailed then but the address has been shut down. Very poor behaviour on their part.

    Clarence Beale Clarence Beale 1:27 pm 25 Oct 21

    Hi David, I apologize that it’s been hard to contact the restaurant recently. It’s been a difficult time. All vouchers will still be honored- they won’t expire due to the shutdown. The email has now been sorted & I believe the website is updated. Please feel to reach out to info@ottomancuisine.com.au for any further enquiries re the new venue

    David M David M 4:06 pm 25 Oct 21

    I should put the record straight, I wanted to edit my original post to keep up with the amended story flagging the reopening in a new location. Quite reasonably, the restaurant email address was not being tended over the weekend. I’ve been reassured that the voucher will be honoured when Ottoman is reborn, let that be soon. And I was also offered a refund. Looking forward to the new Ottoman, wherever that is.

Sevgi Akcal Sevgi Akcal 8:04 am 23 Oct 21

Correction – Mrs Kaya is the former ANU political science student not Mr Kaya.

Linda Moore Linda Moore 6:47 am 23 Oct 21

Just wondering what happens to outstanding gift vouchers. My kids were so excited when they gave me one for my birthday just prior to lockdown.

    Clarence Beale Clarence Beale 1:28 pm 25 Oct 21

    Hi Linda, I apologize that it’s been hard to contact the restaurant. It’s been a difficult time. All vouchers will still be honored- they won’t expire due to the shutdown. The email has now been sorted. Please feel to reach out to info@ottomancuisine.com.au for any further enquiries as to your voucher

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