Oklava – Turkish in Shoreditch EC2A

Great British menu dinner at Oklava 
IMG_6033a_Wibble
Psst! Come here + wibble the jelly, you know you want to…

K and I got sucked in to watching BBC’s Great British Menu (GBM) for the first time this year; already in its 12th series. We were supporting Selin Kiazim (“lovely hair”) Chef of Oklava, partly because we’re Londoners and partly because her chargrilled “modern Turkish” food looks so mouth-wateringly good. Oklava was first recommended to me well over a year ago and has been on the LardButty hitlist ever since. So when I saw this tweet announcing a special GBM Wimbledon dinner serving all four courses @ £60.00, it was time to act. Quickly. Booking made.

As seen on TV…
See the four courses with recipes on the BBC’s GBM website:
1. StarterQueue-cumber – Compressed cucumber + watermelon, spicy dukkah, pickled cucumber + shallots, borek
2. FishNadal Vs Federer – Barbecued octopus
3. MainGrand Slam Lamb – loads of smoky grilled BBQ lamb and spicy sausage
4. DessertHonouring Venus rosewater champions – all Turkish Delightish – a “Turkish panna cotta” (Muhallebi) with peach jelly, raspberries and rosewater sauce


As seen in Oklava…
But not for long. Nom nom.

Being located on a street corner with two walls of windows, it feels light and airy inside Oklava even though it’s a fairly small restaurant (about 50 covers). The kitchen is open-plan, with high stool seating at the counter so you can watch food being prepared and cooked in the stone oven or on the charcoal grill (mangal).

On arrival, we were seated at a regular table by an open window – ideal for a warm summer evening. And service was really good – nicely casual, professional, and chatty too.

First decision: we opted for the wine pairings with this special dinner, which meant we got to try three types of Turkish wine.

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Wimbledon dinner menu

Check out these photos, they pretty much do the talking themselves:Great British Menu dinner Oklava Shoreditch_insta
Queue-cumber – flat bread, compressed cucumber, verjus dressing, cacik, crispy pancetta, served with Turkish fizz

K hates cucumber. He won’t eat it, he won’t go near it. He absolutely loved this dish – I think that says it all really.

The flavours of all the ingredients combined together was sensational. I dislike fresh coriander but ate and enjoyed it here, and the salty crispy pancetta finished it off royally. Yum.

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Nadal Vs Federer fish course – Grilled octopus with spiced potato rostis paired with a glass of Pasaeli Yapincak wine

Another treat to the tastebuds – the octopus didn’t quite live up to my expectations (I’d drooled watching the octopus being grilled on TV) but the rostis were crispy and just gorgeous. The Pasaeli Yapincak wine pairing was interesting too – a chilled white wine with a slightly musty taste when drunk on its own, but it sprang to life with this dish and went perfectly.

On to the highlight of this Wimbledon themed dinner: the Grand Slam Lamb main course, which really stood out. How it didn’t win the main course round on GBM is beyond my understanding.

Four types of lamb, all so different and all so, so special. The çemen glazed slow cooked lamb shoulder had dense, rich, smoky flavours (so strong I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of it so… perfect in a meat selection) and the dutchee sausage with all its spices was something else. Unfortunately the onion purée didn’t like me (but we don’t need to talk about that here…).

Definitely worthy of a few photos:

20170731_GBM dinner Oklava - Grand Slam Lamb
Grand Slam Lamb – three types of lamb (pictured) – lamb dutchee sausage, grilled lamb neck, grilled lamb chops + caramelised onion purée

Great British Menu dinner Oklava Shoreditch_insta
Who knew lamb could taste this good? Four types of lamb: çemen glazed slow cooked lamb shoulder, lamb dutchee sausage, grilled lamb neck, grilled lamb chops + caramelised onion purée, served with Romaine lettuce salad, and freekeh salad with pomegranates

Great British Menu dinner Oklava Shoreditch - lamb shoulder
Cemen glazed slow cooked lamb shoulder – çemen glaze ingredients include cumin, paprika, sweet pepper paste

This Romaine lettuce salad with feta dressing, lamb ‘bacon’ and candied walnuts was divine, especially the feta dressing (a new and improved interpretation of a Caesar salad?)

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Romaine salad with feta dressing, lamb ‘bacon’ + candied walnuts – Freekeh salad with pomegranates and glass of Arcadia Cabernet Franc red wine in background (worth keeping a note of + saved to my pinterest drinks board for future reference)

Next up: peach and rose bellini, with dessert – vanilla muhallebi (Turkish panna cotta) with peach jelly, raspberry and rosewater sauce, and a caramelised almond wafer.

Great British Menu dinner - Oklava Shoreditch
Hairy armed bellinis

Great British Menu dinner Oklava Shoreditch_insta
Honouring Venus Rosewater Champions

The verdict: Great service from both of our servers. Staff looked as though they were all enjoying themselves working here, and working together as a team, which was nice (that’s not something that comes across very often in restaurants and was noticeable because of it). The interior’s really pleasing (patterned shadows from lamp shades cast on walls, light and airy with open windows) and the food we had for this GBM dinner was an absolute treat.

Having enjoyed the lamb selection so much, I’m keen to return to try the Sunday Feast.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: Turkish
– Address: 74 Luke St, London
– Postcode: EC2A 4PY
– Nearest stations: Old Street, Liverpool Street, or Shoreditch (overground)
– Website + menus: Oklava website
– Photos on flickr: Oklava food photos
– Location: Oklava map

Oklava Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Just Eat delivers

Pide delivery through Just Eat

We’re back ordering take-aways through Just Eat after a few weeks trying out Deliveroo (unsuccessfully).

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Peynir Pide – Feta cheese, hellim cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, fresh mint & fresh tomatoes

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Three pidesSucuk (beef pepperoni, chicken sausages, mushrooms + fresh tomatoes), Acili Sebze (mushrooms, red onions, peppers + green chillies) + Kusbasi (roasted lamb, spicy minced lamb, green chillies, crushed red chillies, red onions + peppers) and feta salad

Last night we ordered a delivery from old favourite, Pide the grandfather of pizza, through Just Eat. Easy to order, the Turkish pizzas and salad arrived promptly within the hour. The order was correct; pizza was fresh and hot, salad chilled, and all very tasty.

Check out LardButty’s review of Pide

 

Just Eat Vs Deliveroo

Just Eat
– easy to use website
– many restaurants to choose from
– reasonably priced
– fairly reliable in that food usually arrives within the hour and is usually hot (any issues are generally taken care of in time for your meal)
– a takeaway aggregator that lists menus for its users, Just Eat passes orders onto the restaurants for them to deliver the food to customers (Just Eat gets commission)

Deliveroo
– website has limited functionality (eg. you can’t ‘favourite’ your preferred restaurants) but does have really appealing food photography
– limited number of restaurants to choose from
– over-priced in that Deliveroo charges restaurant prices for ‘restaurant food’ but without the restaurant experience
– a delivery service that doesn’t take responsibility when there’s an issue with an order – the customer is left trapped somewhere in between the restaurant and Deliveroo’s (lack of) customer service
– food usually delivered by bicycle courier meaning food can be scrambled and cold
– the artful food photography on their website does not reflect what the food looks like in real life
– unreliable in that they use a pool of rider-couriers and can not always guarantee couriers in your area

AyaSofya Turkish Restaurant – Catford

Catford’s newest Turkish restaurant is up against some tough – and established – competition (with the likes of Turkish Kitchen, Mekan and Turquaz).

How would AyaSofya compare? K and I visited spontaneously last night, to find out.

 

Inside AyaSofya restaurant Catford
Inside AyaSofya

 

At 6pm the restaurant was empty. We were greeted promptly and quickly shown to a table. While the white wines didn’t appeal (limited choice including some Turkish wines that we weren’t familiar with and chose not to be adventurous) we ordered a bottle of Rioja, Spanish red @ £16.95. It wasn’t in stock so we settled for a Merlot wine from the Bordeaux region instead.

 

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Hellim and sucuk starter

 

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Calamari starter

 

For starters we shared sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage – gorgeous) @ £3.50, deep fried calamari @ £3.95 (light and tender, served piping hot) and grilled hellim cheese @ £3.95.

 

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Karisik kebab

 

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AyaSofya special

 

Our server was attentive and helpful, and made recommendations about the dishes when asked. For mains, K ordered a karisik kebab – chicken and lamb on the bone with side salad and rice @ £12.95 (excellent) and I ordered the AyaSofya special – chicken and lamb cubes in tomato with yoghurt, served with a side salad and rice, and chilli sauce @ £12.95 (this was great – the meat was lovely and tender, and really filling too).

 

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Baklawa and milk pudding with cinnamon (Muhallebi?) – complimentary

 

A group of ladies came into the restaurant to prepare it for a 60th birthday party, hanging lots of personal photos and ’60th’ decorations, obviously enjoying themselves and adding to a chirpy atmosphere.

 

The verdict: Nice, comfortable space where it’s easy to relax and enjoy the friendly service and great food. I’ll save room to order a dessert next time, as the Turkish milk pudding is divine. Great value too – our total bill for two including service came to £60.00).

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish
~ Address: 195 Rushey Green, Catford, London
~ Postcode: SE6 4BD
~ Nearest station: Catford Bridge, Catford
~ Photos on flickr: images of AyaSofya food
~ Location: AyaSofya map
Click to add a blog post for Ayasofya on Zomato

Levante Pide – Lewisham

We decided to end the working week relaxing over a meal out on Friday evening. We wanted somewhere nice. And somewhere in Lewisham, South East London.

A web search (Google, Open Table, Trip Advisor, etc) showed that Levante Pide, a Turkish restaurant on Lewisham High Street, had better reviews and ranking over other central Lewisham restaurants. And so I booked a table via the Open Table site.

Roll on 8pm Friday night: on arrival the restaurant was packed and we were told they didn’t have our booking – perhaps we’d booked the restaurant with a similar name (Levante) at Hither Green? I showed the booking on my phone and we were shown to a table for two. Mix-up cleared.


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Inside Levante Pide – large and bright, stone clad walls

 

We weren’t in any hurry – we were intent on having a relaxing, leisurely meal. Even so, service was incredibly slow (to the extent I had to go find our waiter at one point).

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Menu

We ordered a bottle of chianti red wine, reasonably priced at £19.00 and these mixed meze starters: grilled haloumi cheese @ £4.50, sucuk izgara spicy Turkish sausage (excellent) @ £4.50, sigara boregi deep-fried filo dough stuffed with creamy Turkish white cheese and parsley @ £3.90 and calamari fried squid in a light crispy batter @ £4.50. They were all good and served with fresh salad but the sausage stood out as being the speciality dish here.

 

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Meze starters – grilled haloumi, sucuk spicy sausage, sigara boregi + calamari
 
For main course, K ordered Iskender kebab – lamb doner served with butter-coated bread with yoghurt and special Anatolian sauce, topped with sizzling butter @ £12.00 (simply amazing – really tender lamb pieces and gorgeous spicy sauce and flavours) and I had an Adana kebab – minced meat marinated with herb and grilled @£10.00. This was tainted with an unpleasant gassy flavour (from the way it had been grilled?) and I left it.

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Kebab main courses – Iskender and Adona

While I’m not the world’s biggest fan of puddings, I do love baklava (honey and nuts – my kind of ingredients) so in the interest of benchmarking (ahem) we ordered a portion to share (this was tasty enough but @ £3.50 for two pieces it seemed either over-priced or a small portion) along with an Irish coffee made with Baileys @ £3.90 each.

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Baklava + Irish coffee with Baileys

The verdict: a bit hit and miss (some food was great, some food – like the complimentary bread and the Adana kebab – had an unpleasant gassy taste) and service was poor. There are plenty of other good Turkish restaurants in the area, like Turquaz (with friendly staff and entertaining belly dancing) that have an edge over Levante Pide.

And – if your dining criteria is a good restaurant in the Lewisham area – head over to Catford, where there are several great restaurants and a variety of international cuisines.

 

Restaurant info:

~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish
~ Address: 187 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London
~ Postcode: SE13 6AA
~ Nearest station: Lewisham
~ Website + menus: Levante Pide website
~ Photos: Levante Pide food photos
~ Location: Levante Pide map

Levante Pide on Urbanspoon

Turkish Kitchen – Catford

We don’t eat a lot of take-aways (honest) but this week we’ve had two. Both Turkish. Both ordered through Just Eat. And both possibly from the same people as it turns out (I only happened to notice that Pide and Turkish Kitchen have next-door addresses when writing this blog post).

So, it’s a Tuesday night and we fancy some Turkish meze type sharing food. Turkish Kitchen fits the bill.


TurkishKitchen_selection Turkish Kitchen meze – grilled lamb kebab, sucuk, borek, halim, falafel


We order:
Starters
~ Sucuk – Turkish garlic sausage @ £3.75
~ Borek – deep fried filo pastry filed with creamy Turkish cheese + parsley @ £3.55
~ Hellim (halloumi) – Cyprus cheese, charcoal grilled @ £3.95
~ Falafel – pan-fried balls of ground chick-peas, garlic, onions, celery, dill and parsley, served with hummus @ £3.45

Mains
~ Incik Guvec – lamb chunks stewed for hours in spices + vegetable sauce to give a soft delicate texture, served with rice @ £9.45
~ Iskender Kebab Izgara – charcoal grilled lamb fillet cubes served with butter coated homemade bread with yogurt + special Anatolian sauce, topped with drizzled butter @ £9.45


IMG_7944b_ingil Slow stewed lamb – Incik Guvec


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Mixed salad


The Turkish mixed salad contained a variety of ingredients, including a mix of leaves, hummus, olives, and cous cous. And lovely and fresh. All good quality, tasty fresh food and reasonably priced.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish
~ Address: 15 Catford Hill, Catford, London
~ Postcode: SE6 4NU
~ Tel: 020 8613 9370
~ Nearest station: Catford, Catford Bridge
~ Website: Turkish Kitchen website
~ Menu on Just Eat: Turkish Kitchen menu
~ Photos on flickr: images of Turkish Kitchen food
~ Location: Turkish Kitchen map


RELATED LINKS More Catford dining: ~ Catford Chippy ~ El Poco Mexico ~ FS2 – Turkish deliveries ~ Mekan ~ Sapporo Ichiban


Turkish Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Pide – Grandfather of pizza

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Another gorgeous Pide delivery through Just Eat – July 2017 

Turkish pide is the original pizza so the story goes: an Italian misheard an Ottoman sailor whose mouth was full of the stuff and it became known as pizza. Apparently.

Who knows if there’s any truth in the tale. More importantly, who cares. An interesting alternative to pizza (oval shaped bread base instead of round, with Turkish food toppings) our experience was a good one.

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from a “traditional Anatolian recipe dating back thousands of years”

We were excited to discover PIDE on Just Eat on Sunday evening. We both love Turkish food and fancied something easy like pizza, so – a perfect combination.

There’s a deal for three pides for £16.95 at the mo, and the selection certainly doesn’t resemble your average pizza menu. We chose:

Mantar – Mushrooms, tomato puree, onions, garlic, olive oil, cheddar, mozzarella cheese and dried red basil
Peynir – Kashar cheese, feta cheese, mozzarella, onions, fresh mint, parsley + tomatoes
Meatballs – Lamb meatballs, onions, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, cheddar + mozzarella cheese

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Mantar pide (mushroom)

I absolutely love mushrooms, they’re one of my favourite foods. There was nothing disappointing about this mantar pide at all. But it was the least exciting of the three.

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Peynir pide – cheesy kashar + feta with fresh mint leaves

You could say the peynir pide is a Turkish take on a cheese feast but with its contrasting bitter cheese and fresh mint leaf flavours, it’s original. And amazing.
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Lamb meatballs pide Succulent spicy lamb meatballs in a tomato-ey sauce.

Need I say more? Go on, give it a try.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Turkish, pizza
– Address: 15a Catford Hill, Catford, London
– Postcode: SE6 4NU
– Tel: 020 8690 0543
– Nearest station: Catford, Catford Bridge
– Website + menus: Pide website
– Pide on Just Eat: PIDE on Just Eat
– Photos on flickr: images of Pide food
– Location: Pide map

RELATED LINKS More Catford dining: – Catford ChippyEl Poco MexicoFS2 – Turkish deliveries – MekanSapporo Ichiban

Pide on Urbanspoon

Fora Turkish restaurant – City branch

So I’m going to be spending a lot of time in and around EC3 – a part of London that’s relatively unknown to me, and is shouting out to be properly explored.

And going out for a Turkish/ Mediterranean lunch with my new buddy is a sure way to my heart. Or to getting my *sincere* approval at least.

On Tuesday lunchtime, we went to Fora on Houndsditch. And by the end of the hour (13:30) the restaurant was stuffed full. As were we.

The ‘City menu’ (two courses @ £10.95) was too good a deal to miss, with starter choices such as:
~ borek (filo pastry parcels filled with spinach and feta cheese)
~ taboulleh (parsley salad with mint, cracked wheat and tomatoes)
~ cacik (yoghurt with chopped cucumbers)
~ imam bayildi (aubergine with tomatoes and peppers, chickpeas + fresh tomato sauce)

And main course choices:
~ chicken shish
~ adana kofte (marinated lamb minced and mixed with herbs and grilled on skewer slightly spicy, served with rice and vegetables)
~ lamb casserole
~ sebze guvec (mixed vegetables, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, green beans, tomatoes with rice)
~ mousakka (either meat or veg)
~ chicken kofte (skewers)
~ chicken guvec (chicken with mixed veg etc, with rice)
~ salmon pasta


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Borek starter – three pastries, a large starter portion


Homing in my old favourite, borek (normally £4.95 off the a la carte menu) this was served as a substantial starter portion of three pastries, made of light flaky pastry, packed with feta and spinach (spot on).

For mains, the adana kofte (normally £10.45 off the a la carte menu) – marinated, spicy minced lamb mixed with herbs and grilled on skewers, served with rice, mixed vegetables, and a spicy sauce – was incredibly good (perfectly spiced) and, being such a large portion, very filling.


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Lamb kofte – two large skewers


C had vegetable moussaka (normally £9.95 off the a la carte menu) packed full of veggie layers and tomato juices, with a grilled, lightly burnt top (just as it should be).


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Veggie moussaka


Somehow we forced down a kazandibi, upside down milk pudding with a caramelised top coated in cinnamon with hazelnuts @ £4.25, shared between us:


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Milk pudding – set solid like an egg custard


Fora makes for an impressive lunch outing; one for special occasions that won’t break the bank.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Turkish, Mediterranean
~ Address: 34-36 Houndsditch, City, London
~ Postcode: EC3A 7DB
~ Tel: 020 7626 2222
~ Nearest stations: Aldgate, Liverpool Street (mainline)
~ Website + menus: Fora website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Fora food
~ Location: Fora map


RELATED LINKS
More Spitalfields dining:
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Kastner & Ovens – great salad selection
~ Mama Thai – Indian + Thai take-away curries + noodles
~ Pizza Union – stonebaked pizza, Spitalfields


Fora Restaurant on Urbanspoon