When many of us think of Turkish cuisine, more often than not the immediate thoughts that spring to mind are of the guilty late-night kebab or a bite of syrupy Baklava. However, since 2016, Tulum has been changing how Australian’s appreciate Middle Eastern gastronomy, combining Turkish flair with Melbourne’s fine dining finesse.
Owner and Executive Chef, Coskun Uysal, tapped into childhood memories of his mother’s Anatolian cooking and his upbringing in Istanbul to create his vision for Tulum. This, combined with his expanse experience at a number of internationally acclaimed venues like Fifteen and River Cafe in London, and Attica, Vue De Monde and Pei Modern in Melbourne, has meant that he is well accustomed to the standards and influences of modern fine dining. Seeing a gap in Melbourne’s already heaving culinary industry, Coskun set about bringing his vision of redefining lesser known Turkish dishes to life.
And it’s not just the dishes that have come to life. One step inside Tulum will bring back memories of balmy days and long lunches in the sun. The rustic, white wooden space covered with lush greenery is the ideal casual setting for outside dining, whereas inside reveals a more formal setting, complete with monogrammed table linen and wildflower centrepieces.
You will also be met with the tantalising smells of Turkish cooking drifting from the kitchen to tempt your palate. Each dish is made with a story in mind, each explained to the diner by the chefs themselves who deliver the meals to the tables.
The menu is designed to share. Small mezzes such as Mantar with pine mushrooms, saffron yoghurt, hazelnut and parsley, or Tulum Peynir with the restaurant’s namesake Tulum cheese, tomato jam and dukkah served with Turkish pide, are ideal to share before moving on to the main mezzes.
Lamb is a staple ingredient on the Turkish menu, featuring in a number of signature dishes. The Sogan Dolma uses the flavours from a whole onion combined with rice stuffing, Turkish apple tea sauce and smoked yoghurt to season the lamb to create a flavoursome dining experience that is quintessentially Turkish. Coskun’s Kuzu dish also has lamb as its central ingredient accompanied by aubergine, king brown mushrooms and drizzled with a mulberry molasses sauce.
The wine list is equally exotic, taking a number of drops from Turkish vineyards and beyond that pair beautifully with the flavours and spices of the European cuisine. Cherry and liquorice notes frequently feature, setting off the deep smoky flavours and key ingredients like molasses and cinnamon that feature throughout the menu.
From the nostalgic menu evoking sensory memories to the impeccable and hugely knowledgeable service, dining at Tulum is unique in its own right.