For over ten years, and at regular intervals, I have consumed the delectable offerings of Saray Pizza on Enmore Road, Newtown. Throughout this time, the consistent goodness coming from the open kitchen has never failed to satisfy.
In the early days, Saray was a regular stop before gigs at the Newtown RSL. You would grab a bottle of wine, pull up a seat, and ponder the idyllic travelogue posters hanging off the walls. Lust about backpacking around Turkey and order a plate of mixed dips and a few pide. Wait for the band members you were about to see arrive. Steal sneaky glances at them as they grab their own dinners before playing for you an hour later.
Now, despite a recent renovation that disposed of some of its grungy charm, Saray still delivers. Indeed, opening up the two rooms that once formed the restaurant interior has added depth to the eating experience.
However, some things do stay the same. The mixed dips plate still provides an essential starter, including delicious babaganoush, parsley dip and chili beans. Speaking of which, the chili addition to mushroom pide was once favoured as the only possible progression from the yummy starters. Cheese and mushroom and chili encased in crispy dough: perfection.
The meat pides are all tasty too, but being vegetarian I can only give a secondhand opinion on that. The meat pides tend to be open and flat, as opposed to the enclosed vegetarian varieties. Also, vegan pides grace Saray's menu; those most dedicated to avoiding the animal product world are catered for too.
These days, I visit Saray about once a month with my boyfriend, and we manage to get through one Turkish pide with small mixed dips. The current favourite is leek pide. Eggplant and pumpkin, laced with chili, melded to the leek, make each journey to Newtown resolutely worth it. Also, at $15.50 the leek pide comes super cheap.
Actually, everything is very affordable at Saray's. A dinner of mixed dips and pide - which is ample to fill most any punter, I'd wager - comes in under the $30 for two mark.
The service at Saray is cheerful and efficient, unless the great unwashed have descended on a weekend night and it is crazy busy. And even then, it just gives more time to finish that bottle of wine before the music starts up down the road. The absence of corkage makes the wine all the tastier.
For cheap and delicious food, served quickly and without fuss, I can't go past Saray's victuals. I love that they keep providing the goods and now reside as a firm Newtown-Enmore institution. One that seems to have struck on a happy harmony, and I hope it stays that way.