Three out of three Turks can’t be wrong, right? At least that was my reasoning when I decided to check out Istanbul Flowers, a small, divey, Turkish restaurant that had been recommended to me by several prominent members of the Turkish community.

A standard, canteen-style eatery tucked away underneath the Safest Way supermarket, the place doesn’t have much going for it atmospherically. Well, that’s not entirely true – it does have some incredibly cushy leather chairs, and really, what else do you need?

While the menu listed all the pan-Arabic mezze faves, there were a few items that were specific to Turkey, in particular, the Ïskender kebab, named after its inventor (yes, inventor) Ïskender Efendi. Few words give justice to this lush dish. Let’s just say, it’s the star of the show, the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, the light of my life, my reason for being… um, more on that later. At the start, the waiter brought out a basket filled with thick, pillowy, quilted bread and a tray bearing baba ganouj, made sweet with chunks of roasted red peppers; hummus so fresh it was green; and creamy moutabal.

While I sopped up each dip, my dinner companion tucked into a razor thin, flaky round of spinach bread. It was such a simple dish: filo topped with spinach, tomatoes and onions, yet it tasted so rich. I never quite know how a restaurant, which presumably makes everything from scratch anyway, can make its food taste doubly homemade, yet Istanbul Flowers hit that note. There were no generic spice mixes used in this house, and each sauce, dip and topping was not only made in-house, but clearly made lovingly in-house.

This became all the more clear to me when the mutton Ïskender kebab came out. And, as the dish hit my table, all sound stopped. Large, sweaty morsels of tender meat topped good quality fresh yoghurt, and came doused with sprigs of coriander and a luscious, hearty tomato sauce, with chunks that betrayed it just came off the stove top. The combination was heavenly. A drooling chicken kebab had my mate in similar raptures, but as far as I was concerned, she had nothing on me and my precious Ïskender (the man deserves a medal). It’s an unassuming restaurant, for sure, but if you like your food cheap and cheerful (and high quality), it’s certainly worth a trip to the Safest Way.

The bill (for two)
1x Mezze Dhs15
1x Medium spinach bread Dhs15
1x Mutton Ïskender Dhs38
1x Chicken kebab Dhs33
Total (excluding service) Dhs101