When Izgara pulls back its red velvet curtains for the first time on Tuesday, June 21, it taps two of Sydney’s hottest restaurant trends: Turkish food and, well, red velvet curtains.
Chef Annita Potter’s Viand in Woolloomooloo opened in March with a theatrical entrance of red velvet curtains, and Maurice Terzini was careful to match the red curtains with the carpet when he opened The Bar at the InterContinental at Double Bay last week.
Design outfit Guru Projects tapped 1960s Turkish cabaret theatres for inspiration at Izgara, which slides into the Bayswater Road site that previously housed Harajuku Gyoza.
The palate of burgundy and oak is complemented by antique mirrors and custom marble tables.
“There’s a big arch, then you pull back the red velvet curtains and there’s a big open grill in the middle of the restaurant,” co-owner Ozgur Sefkatli says.
He describes the restaurant as a Turkish-influenced steakhouse. Izgara, the Turkish word for grill, will have oysters, eggplant and Yamba prawns on its menu, but red meat is its star.
Jack’s Creek black angus rib-eye sits among more obviously Turkish-leaning dishes: hand-minced veal kofte and an Iskender kebab of lamb shoulder with foamy butter.
“Iskender is from Bursa, where my mum’s family is from, so I used to holiday there. We’re doing it with really high-quality meat,” Sefkatli says.
Izgara joins a growing band of specialist Turkish restaurants popping up across the city.
Sefkalti and his business partner, chef Efe Topuzlu, have modelled Izgara on the traditional ocakbasi restaurants of Istanbul, where the chefs cook inside in front of diners. Topuzlu started his career in ocakbasi restaurants as a teenager, before moving to Sydney.
They’ve been ambitious, opening Middle Eastern share plate eatery Above Par, in the CBD, during the pandemic, before adding Botany’s Malika Bakehouse to their portfolio. But Izgara, with its $1 million fitout, is their biggest gamble.
“We want to change the perception of how people see Turkish food,” Sefkalti says.
Open dinner Tue-Sat (lunch to follow in coming months).
9-15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point, izgarasydney.com.au