Unpretentious exterior

MJ’s Verdict

Last Friday when I jaunted along to the Turkish Kitchen I was not quite sure what to expect, but I had time to contemplate what was to come as I didn’t have to teach this Friday and was walking up from Leith at my leisure. I hoped that the Turkish Kitchen would live up to my love of Turkish food. But, then again, these things seldom do once you’ve been exposed to the food in its country of origin.

When I arrived B was already there, getting to be quite the early bird, he is. We were seated at what seemed to be a restaurant that likely deals mostly in takeout but had a small seating area that was nicer than the seating areas found in other places that do a lot of takeaway service.

We were given menus and a nice wee information sheet on Turkey, I do like to learn things while I dine, after all. Once our fellow diners arrived (congrats to them on their engagement, by the way), we asked for the special lunch menus and we all opted to order from that. I went with the chicken salad and the aubergine stuffed with mince. While we waited, a plate of nice pita bread arrived with a salsa that was extremely fresh and tasty. I would even dare say that it may have been some of the best salsa I’ve had from anywhere in the city. The cilantro and hint of mint that comes through at the end was really quite nice and fresh and I was eyeing it to try with other dishes later.

salsa and pita

Soon our starters arrived. I was tempted by the manti. The first meal I had in Turkey was a hot bowl of manti with a bit of garlic yogurt. I really loved it and have craved it from time to time since and its good to know that there is somewhere in this city where I can find it. B hoovered it in good time, so I assume it was a tasty recreation of a Turkish classic. My salad was not what I expected, but it was fresh and cooling.

Chicken salad

I wasn’t really looking for the meat to be chopped up breast meat that was chilled, and had more in mind the shawarma meat or something resembling a kebab, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it and finished it all. The bits of cilantro and raw onion, however, made me glad I didn’t have to go meet anyone following lunch!

Very soon after we cleaned our starter plates, we were delivered plates with salad and rice, which were very prettily done. After we had these, our mains arrived. Since B and I went for the same thing, I was busy looking at our fellow diner’s food, deciding whether or not I ordered well (this is something that plagues me, this ‘ordering well’ and the possibility of a food envy so bad that it will follow you for the rest of the day—café st. Honore comes to mind for me). Turns out, I did order well. I felt this was authentic as a UK equivalent to a Turkish meal can get and that if te kitchen was supplied with the aubergines that are prevalent in the Mediterranean countries, our dishes would have been a dead on hit for authenticity.

Chicken Kebab

As it was, the food was quite good. I was well pleased with my hearty and healthy-feeling aubergines dish and my mind was zooming ahead to our trip to Istanbul in a few weeks.

After we had all cleared our plates, B and I ordered Turkish coffee, no sugar. Now, if you’ve never had Turkish coffee (or Greek) you know that it is an acquired taste. It is distinct and comforting and conjures images of sitting around with friends and enjoying life in a sunny clime. Once we ordered and received our drinks, our fellow diners were intrigued enough to order two of their own. Which they enjoyed, if not for the luxurious mouth feel that a Turkish coffee has, then for the experience of gauging when to stop drinking to not get a mouthful of coffee grinds from the bottom.

Over all, it was a lovely lunch, and a steal at the bargain price of £6.50 for 2 courses and I recommend that you go if you are in the area and hankering for something different and good. I think I’d like to return one evening to see what the rest of the menu is like…or just to grab a lahmacan or 5 to take away.

Blythe’s Verdict
I love Turkish cuisine, and on my frequent trips to Istanbul I’ve been exposed to some pretty impressive stuff. As I’ve said before, Turkish cuisine sometimes doesn’t travel too well to this country, as the recipes tend to be very simple, showcasing locally sourced ingredients, particularly things like aubergines, that you just can’t get to the same quality in this country. So, it was with cautious optimism that I strode along Rose Street towards the Turkish Kitchen.

Today, we were having lunch with both our vegetarian correspondent, Sandra, and our tie man, Phil. Sandra and Phil recently got engaged on an alpine slope, so we have the first Lunchquest wedding in the offing!

Once we were all assembled in the simple surroundings, our attentive and helpful waitress brought menus for us to consider, including a set lunch menu that looked to offer a nice deal. Two courses for £6.50 sounded very good, particularly given the hearty sounding dishes.

While we contemplated, we tucked in to some freshly warmed pitta, with a lovely minty-fresh tomato dip. We had a little blip when the drinks arrived, as Phil’s wine was not quite right, first time, but this was quickly rectified from a new bottle.

Manti

In a rare aberration, I decided not to go for the soup! It was lentil, which I’m sure would have been lovely, but the sight of manti on the menu was enough for me to forsake my beloved soupy soup. If you’ve not come across manti before, it’s like a stuffed pasta, served with yoghurt, and tomato and red pepper sauce. Istanbul has many manti cafes, dedicated to showcasing the stuff. It’s a real comfort food favourite, and damn good for dealing with hangovers (a condition from which I was coincidentally suffering, today).

The Turkish Kitchen’s version was very good, with the sauce full of flavour and the manti soft and satisfying. It was very similar to versions I’ve tried, previously, so certainly ticked the authentic box.

Aubergine and Mince

For main, I took a little gamble by going for the aubergine stuffed with mince. As I’ve said, due to the inability to source locally, aubergines in this country are often a pale imitation of what you get when in sunnier climes. But I think the quality seems to be getting a little better. We sampled a cracking aubergine dish in Kanpai, a few weeks ago, and again today we got a dish that was high on quality. Served with a little mound of rice and a plain salad, it was great, simple food, beautifully illustrating what Turkish cuisine is all about.

Rice and salad for the main

We finished the meal with a little Turkish coffee, served plain (without sugar). MJ and I are well acquainted with this stuff, while Phil and Sandra hadn’t tried it before, so demurred to begin with, but joined us once they saw what fun we were having. Again, the authenticity box got a nice tick in it, as this is exactly what you get served in places I’ve visited in Istanbul. It’s not for everyone (MJ still isn’t quite sure it’s for her), but it certainly grows on you, over time.

Vegetarian Main

Overall, I was really pleased with the Turkish Kitchen. The dishes I had were very good and offered terrific value. Their menu is pretty extensive, although Sandra wasn’t over-blessed with vegetarian options. They also do takeaway, so I can imagine that I’ll be making fairly regular visits in the future. If you’re looking for an authentic slice of Turkish culinary delights, I’d recommend you pop along, too.

Scores

Neat wee box with the bill

MJ scores the Turkish Kitchen:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20

Phil scores the Turkish Kitchen:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20

Sandra scores the Turkish Kitchen:
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 13.5/20

Blythe scores the Turkish Kitchen:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20

Today’s questers were: Miriam, Sandra, Phil, Blythe

We ate: manti, chicken salad, aubergine stuffed with mince, vegetable sote, chicken kebab

We drank: sparkly water, orange juice, white wine, Turkish coffee

We wore: the glow of newly engaged bliss, pony pendant, www.tieclub.co.uk tie

Total bill: c.£42

Turkish Kitchen
http://www.turkish-kitchen.co.uk/

Turkish Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Providers of ties to Lunchquest

Written by BKR