Seventeen years ago I rented an awesome terrace house in Redfern with two young mates. It was a party house for my flatmates, still great friends, and it was my marijuana den. Haha – I was such a pothead back in the day and loved the ganja and the following munchies. For all three of us our ultimate takeaway was at Erciyes. On the corner of Crown and Cleveland this place was an icon back then. The best pides of all time that were super cheap and had flavours on another level.
We would feast at home after collecting a pide each for about $6-. Even better it was next to a video store where we would get Star Trek episodes and binge watch the old way while stuffing our faces.
I moved out of the area in 2003 and had not returned until a couple of months back when we filmed an episode of WTF? instore (video below). I was so blown away to see they are still in full operation and as good as I can remember.
Located more in Surry Hills than Redfern, at the corner of Crown and Cleveland, the venue is in two sections. You enter via their takeaway store (that if I generalise) looks like every other kebab store around the country. But you walk through the takeaway store into a simple and now quite large dine-in restaurant. They now seat 150 people following a renovation in 2006.
The decor is simple, the floor is floating floorboards and on Friday and Saturday nights it gets quite packed. Expect a belly dancing show on these same nights. Tie yourself to your chair or she will drag you up to dance with her haha.
THE HISTORY AND THE STORY:
Erciyes opened its doors in 1993. Back then it was a small family takeaway shop, the same one that now stands. It took off and became incredibly popular so they extended into the next door shop for the sit-down section and in 2006 did their last renovation. It’s not fine dining, it will win no design awards but it will win all the Turkish food awards because the place is still bloody amazing!
Erciyes has had many owners in their 25yrs of operation but the good news is they are all from the same family, the Saracoglu family. Presently, the original owner’s son, Eren, his wife, and his brother run the business. We had a chance to meet and interview Eren (see the video) and he spoiled us with all the best food. He is young, he is learning, and he is under pressure managing a venue of this staying power but he is managing it just like his father and it appears to still be thriving, if somewhat a little quieter.
We dined early on a Friday night and the grandeur of the belly dance appears to have fallen and we were there in the colder months so the venue was not packed but quite full by the time we left but from my history of the place it looked a lot quieter. This used to have people bouncing off the walls. I will dine in there again on a Saturday and see what it’s like. Any excuse to return!
The name of the restaurant comes from Mount Erciyes (tr. Erciyes Dağı), located 25 km south of Kayseri, Turkey. Erciyes is the highest mountain in central Anatolia (3916 metres), and has an extinct volcano located at its peak. In 25yrs of operation I never questioned why the logo had a mountain in it. I was too stoned back in the day to even notice it had a mountain in the logo hahaha.
WHAT WE ORDERED:
Mixed Dips – Chilli, Babagonush, Beetroot, Hummus, Parsley, Spinach and Carrot
Doner Kebab (from the takeaway section)
Patirmali Pide – comes with a spicy pastrami, cheese, egg and spices
Iskender Kebab – layers of beef on chopped turkish bread with yogurt, garlic & traditional sauce served on sizzling plate
Large Veggie Plate (falafel, vine leaves, tabouli salad, eggplant salad & green bean salad)
Mixed Grill – (mixture of lamb cutlets, kofte, lamb & chicken shish)
Two types of baklava
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
It was like returning to my youth – I literally got to eat my favourite pide from back then and it was better than I remember. The menu is HUGE. There is over 70 items to choose from covering all the meats (excluding pork) and a lot of vegetarian dishes.
The wine menu is simple with five whites, five reds and a decent selection of beers and spirits. The bonus of dining at Erciyes is you can BYO bottled wine – makes your meal that much cheaper!
We started with the mixed dips. As good as I remember – this is a must on every visit – comes with nice warm Turkish bread, ask for more if you run out, and don’t let a drop of dip go to waste. CC was very keen to keep it neat and I wanted to run Turkish bread from one end to the other and get a mixed dip taste, I did it, she was not happy haha. I could kill for this now!!
Next up was my childhood dish – the Pastirmali Pide – I will order this every time I go near this place – it is so bloody good. A fair bit of heat kick from the pastrami and the spices but it is cooled with the egg and the cheese – so well balanced. Damn – I wish I lived back there while writing this!!
The Doner Kebab was beautifully made, finely shaved and layered. It added a soft texture to it – much more refined than the usual pub closure 2am pissed kebab.
The Iskender Kebab was divine – this is the one dish (OK baklava as well) that I must order at any Turkish venue I visit. There are no words to the flavours of layering beef, garlic, yoghurt and sauces on top of torn Turkish bread and serving it sizzling.
The Veggie Plate and the Mixed Grill were two brilliant dishes to eat together – so delish. The lamb chops were cooked perfectly and the vine leaves were my highlight. I would highly recommend this when dining in groups – gives you a little bit of a lot of food.
And we force fed ourselves two types of baklava. Pretty sure these are exactly the same but just look different. We both thought they needed more syrup but we still demolished them.
I love Turkish food and I have eaten a fair bit of it this year. ERCIYES is the OG and has been my favourite since 2001. My only gripe is I don’t live around the corner anymore and it’s too far to get my regular pide fix. I need more excuses for dinners in the Redfern/ Surry Hills area.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 0/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets & 0/1 bonus
PH: 02 9319 1309
409 Cleveland St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
BOOKINGS: I would recommend
PRICING: The most expensive item is the Banquet for $55- and the most expensive ingle dish is the Mixed Grill for $41-.
7 Days | 11am to 11:30pm
LOCAL DELIVERY: Yes – all the delivery companies
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – minimal
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes – minimal
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
BYO: Yes and Licensed
*** Spooning Australia dined as guests of Erciyes while filming for WTF ***
For more reviews of Sydney Restaurants – check them out HERE