The former ‘Istanbul’ sits opposite current favourite of this blog, Mezza Luna, and the upcoming New York Diner. It’s had a refit since changing hands, with an expanded kitchen area.
Many-coloured glass lanterns, embroidered wall hangings: these are attractive touches, but it’s the neat ranks of meat-filled skewers on pristine display which impress this hungry carnivore.
With so few of the City Road grill houses serving alcohol in any form, the alternatives need to be good. A mixed fruit cocktail is a lovely thing, the cherry juice even more so with its sweet-sour balancing act. It’s refreshing after my wife and our three year old run the Race For Life, though even the support team needs refuelling.
Chilli sauce, a cooling cucumber and yoghurt dip and some green olives are brought to the table. The former is a rough paste of pulpy tomatoes and hefty chilli, and it’s a potent introduction with the fresh bread.
Falafel are unremarkable, as is the hummus: I like mine to carry a WMD-sized payload of garlic and lemon, and this seems underpowered. That said, I’ve recently had my eyes opened about the vagaries of making consistent daily batches, given the variable strengths of each batch of garlic and lemons, so perhaps we caught them on an off-day.
But things take a swift turn for the better with lahmacun: an ultra-thin and crisp dough base, with a scattering of tomato, onion, minced lamb and parsley results in a light, flavoursome starter for the ridiculously small price of £2.50.
Tavuklu pide is a lovely sight: an oval baked flatbread covered with chicken, tomatoes and peppers, the rim folded up to form a border crust to contain the toppings. Describing it as ‘Turkish pizza’ undersells it, I think: it’s as good to eat as it is to look at, and a substantial plate of food for only £4.50. There’s a theme developing here.
Yogurtlu lamb shish (£10.50) is a heavy dish for lunch. It’s a hearty layering of natural yoghurt, lamb pieces and a rich tomato sauce. It’s all on top of a base of diced bread which soaks up a little of everything.
It would be great if you’re a Turkish shepherd or farmer, someone needing to run on heavy fuel after lunch; but for someone whose afternoon plans contained nothing more energetic than watching the Tour de France while slumped on a recliner, it’s heavy going. Delicious, but heavy.
Seafood casserole (also £10.50) is a thick stew of onions, herbs, peppers and mushrooms in tomato sauce: my wife loves it.
Saray made a good impression. You won’t go hungry here, with their large portions: neither will you feel much of a hit in the pocket, with three (and a half) of us eating well for £40 and change. It’s another slice of the Levantine on City Road, and another safe bet.
166 City Rd,
Phone: 029 2049 4943
Open every day, 11am-12.00am
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.