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2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

Christmas vegetarian recipes

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Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Barzaari to open in Marrickville, Sydney

Barzaari's Andrew Jordanou and Darryl Martin

Barzaari's Andrew Jordanou and Darryl Martin

From joints of meat roasted over charcoal to sandpit-fired coffee, Marrickville makes way for a new eastern Mediterranean restaurant.  

This month, Marrickville's café set can swap their Sunday macchiato for a Cypriot-style sandpit-fired coffee at Barzaari. The new eastern Mediterranean restaurant, opening 12 July, is bringing more than a taste of modern Cyprus to Sydney's inner west.

Chef Darryl Martin is behind the new eatery, together with friend and business partner Andrew Jordanou. Martin was one of the original chefs at The Three Weeds in Rozelle and has also clocked time at Quay.

"The eastern Med is incredible," he says. "Down to the different birds and animals they use, the way they use their charcoal, the different spices…I don't think people in Australia realise the diversity of those places and their cooking."

Martin's wife is half-Cypriot, half-Lebanese, and Jordanou is Cypriot. While family recipes will certainly play an influence on Barzaari, the menu takes inspiration from other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines such as Greek, Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian, too.

One thing's certain: there'll be more than a lick of smoke and spice, thanks to the open kitchen's woodfired oven and charcoal pit.

On the snacks menu, Coffin Bay oysters pop in the woodfired oven and come topped with pickled parsley stalk and shaved lountza, a cured pork tenderloin. Lukániko, a pork sausage cooked over charcoal with date molasses, orange zest and fennel seed, is served with wood-roasted grapes.

Wrapped in caul fat, skewered and cooked over coals for four to five hours, Barzaari's lamb shoulder is likely to become a signature. Martin marinates "the hell out of it" with a wild and dried oregano-like spice called thribi, which they're sourcing direct from family in Kalymnos, Greece. Desserts include quince ice-cream and baklava ("done more like how the Greeks do savoury pastry") and an aniseed and buttermilk custard with Turkish apple tea granita - Martin's "more modern" take on crème caramel.

The wine list, put together by sommelier Dennis Roman (late of Café Paci), features plenty of Australian and Spanish producers, with bottles from Lebanon, Romania, Greece and Morocco also available. Keeping in theme, a number of house-made syrups, Middle Eastern spices and preserved fruits such as orange and quince will find their way to the cocktail menu - put together by Nordic restaurateur (and Martin's "great mate") Tomi Björck.

As for the fit-out? "Humble," says Martin, "in line with the food". A 100-kilogram tree trunk sits to the right of the entrance, taken from Martin's parents' property in the Hunter Valley. "We had a mortar and pestle carved into the top," he says. "It's quite the centrepiece." To the left, there's a sand-filled basin where copper pots of Cypriot coffee will be buried and brewed as dessert rolls around.

"It'll be a little left-field, but I don't want to bastardise the food," he says. "It's simple cooking, done respectfully."

Barzaari opens Tuesday 12 July.

Barzaari, 65-69 Addison Rd, Marrickville, NSW, (02) 9569 3161, barzaari.com.au; open Tue-Sat for dinner, Fri and Sun for lunch.

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