My friend and I made our way into a conservatory-like anteroom, where more puffing and sipping was taking place. This time it was in cooler (air-conditioned) surroundings that spelled out Eastern comfort, with traditional woven seats and heavy wooden furniture. Beyond this was an upstairs dining room, which offered the same Eastern-style decor, but less atmosphere.
We took a seat in the anteroom and waited to be served by one of the hordes of costumed staff buzzing around the tables: they all looked busy, but didn’t seem to be actually doing a great deal. So we waited – waited for a menu, waited for a waiter to explain some of the items, and waited for a waiter to take our order.
Thankfully, this time we didn’t have to wait long: once the ordeal of ordering was over, the food arrived promptly and it didn’t seem like long before it was all on the table in one go.
There were a number of unique soft drinks on the menu, so I tried the shalgam, which had been explained rather than recommended. It tasted like sugary redcurrant cordial made with sea water.
Perhaps it was highly authentic as well, but personally I couldn’t stomach it.
A bad start maybe, but things quickly improved with the food.
The icli kofte (kibbeh) arrived with cries from my friend that she knew how to make them and if they were sub-standard, I’d never hear the end of it. They were flavoursome little morsels, moist yet crunchy –
and crucially, she was silent, which spoke volumes. The sigarea boregi (cheese pastries) were also delicious, with a wonderfully fresh and sour tang offset against the curdy cheese inside.
The lahmacun made a nice bready snack. It was thin yet with a rustic, wholemeal quality to the dough that gave it a healthier edge, in addition to the freshness from the plentiful herbs. The recommended beyti kebabs weren’t much of a main course on their own, but the tasty little patties wrapped in thin layers of bread, with fiery grilled peppers and a soothing yoghurt sauce, made for a good sharing plate.
Also recommended to us was the sac kavurma, so we opted for the chicken version, but due to the waiter’s confusing explanation we had no idea what to expect. It arrived more neatly presented than the imagined stew, with a little mound of rice circled by strips of chicken and slivers of red and green pepper.
The chicken was well seasoned, the peppers were soft but a little on the slimy side and the rice was deep and warmly flavoured, as though it had soaked up an earthy tomato base, yet it become increasingly greasy towards the bottom of the dish. It was nice enough but nothing to write home about. The desserts proved to be another mixed bag, with excellent kunefe but baklava that was too slimy and syrupy for
While service could do with tightening up, the food is enjoyable and reasonably priced. It’s not an outstanding venue, but it’s not a bad spot to while away an evening, and it seems at the moment it’s guaranteed to be busy.
The bill (for two)
1x icli kofte (kibbeh) Dhs20
1x sigarea boregi Dhs20
1x lahmacun Dhs20
1x sac kavurma chicken Dhs65
1x beyti kebab Dhs65
1x kunefe Dhs35
1x baklava Dhs20
1x juice Dhs23
1x shalgam Dhs15
2x large water Dhs20
1x Turkish coffee Dhs15
1x Turkish tea Dhs10
Total (excluding service) Dhs328