Let me tell you a story. I worked up an appetite all day and salivated while memorising the menu on the day of my dinner date at Caravanserai. Yet I was still unprepared for the gastronomical feast that was presented to me as I sat amongst Turkish rugs, coloured pillows and mosaic lanterns on a deck overlooking West End in the candlelit ambience that is Caravanserai, a Turkish restaurant on Dornoch Terrace, West End.
As the first plates were placed on the table in front of me I knew I’d be back, sooner rather than later, A) To talk to Michelle, the lovely owner, and B) to bask in the charming aromas of each dish once, twice and three times more.
At Caravanserai I grazed on feta, grilled asparagus, chorizo sausage, haloumi, baked polenta and piles of warm Turkish bread. I devoured herbed Turkish meatballs (Kofta), a chicken shish kebab and fought for the last Ispanak Borek (spinach and feta pastries). There were more meals on the table but eventually my stomach lost the battle against the never ending deluxe banquet and I regretfully had to put my fork down after eating close to the equivalent of my male dinner companions.
Within days I was back at Caravanserai to have a quick chat with Michelle about her humble, family restaurant so I could tell you, my food loving friends, everything there is to know about my new favourite restaurant.
Caravanserai was an already established business when Michelle bought it 16 years ago when the original owners decided to go back to Turkey. Her part time gig at the restaurant became her own business and flourished into one that she has loved everyday since purchasing Caravanserai.
“I’m very glad, it’s been a very good business,” she said. “It’s a business that I enjoy” and is one that she never gets tired of, despite the hard work that is involved.
Michelle said the name, Caravanserai, means ‘The camel stop on the ancient silk road’ and represents the roadside inns on the ancient Silk Road that provided accommodation, food, wine and music for weary travellers and shelter for their animals after a day of roaming.
She said, “It was this beautiful thing to look forward to” at the end of the journey, and that’s what Caravanserai is all about – food, wine and a very good time, welcoming and refueling Brisbane day in and day out.
And refueling they do, with a menu that ticks all the boxes of a My Kitchen Rules dinner party, clearly surpassing the ten out of ten score cards.
Michelle said, “We update it (the menu) all the time. We have big menu meetings and we tweak it and make it better.”
At the end of the day, “its Turkish influence but for Brisbane,” Michelle said, with her four chefs, whom she speaks very highly of, using local produce and some imported ingredients to create ‘that’ meal that will dance across your tastebuds long into the future.
But its not just the food that transports you to the midst of Istanbul, it’s the décor and charming atmosphere too, the embellishments that Michelle said she works on with her staff. She told me the rugs on the tables, the ones that actually help with the noise and boast a colour palette of red and pink, are from a Turkish shop owned by a friend, and the dimly lit lanterns that hang overhead took ages to find, but are perfect for the candlelight charm inside the walls of Caravanserai.
So grab your posse and head straight for Caravanserai to order a meze platter, banquet or traditional main pronto, it can be our little secret.
Visit the website (http://www.caravanserairestaurant.com.au) to read the scrumptious menu and book your next dinner date at Caravanserai.