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Turkish restaurants, like Turks themselves, are to be found everywhere in London, although they are, unsurprisingly, thicker on the ground in the ethnic enclaves of north London. For any visitor they offer inexpensive and generally well-cooked fresh food, suitable for a snack, a meaty grill or an Ottoman feast
WEST END: chef Hüseyin Özer Sofra has put his stamp on Turkish cooking in London and now has three restaurants, two Sofras, in Mayfair and near Bond Street tube, and Ozer, just north of Oxford Circus. Expect excitement with such dishes as seared tuna in spice filo crust with ginger, fig and lime chutney or roasted shoulder of lamb with kumquat and limequat marmalade, with a dill sorbet to cleanse the pallet. Efes, and Efes 2 are the home of Kazim Usta, who opened his first London restaurant in 1975 in Great Tichfield Street. (Be advised that there is music and belly dancers on Saturday night). He also has East End outlets, in Brick Lane and Commercial Road. Sarastra is an experience for the overblown décor as much as the food. Opera is the theme and opera boxes are an option. Situated in Drury Lane, it is not surprisingly popular with theatre and opera-goers. Kazan, near Victoria station, is at the smarter end with a menu of Ottoman dishes “perfected in the sultan’s kitchen”, for which Time Out has awarded it five stars,
THE CITY There are five outlets of Haz in the city, from St Paul’s to Fenchurch Street, with the smartest in Cutler Street near Liverpool Street station, which still manages an inexpensive meze menu, and offers good Turkish wines. Finance high flyers in Docklands will head for Hazev restaurant and café by the water on South Quay, for updated Anatolian dishes – or if they are working al-desko, there’s a deli for takeaways.
SOUTH OF THE RIVER This is where the Tas restaurant chain started, offering full meze menus in clean, practical dining rooms. Some have take-away counters attached. For atmosphere, the best are Ev, near Southwark tube station, which has a deli and outdoor seating, while Tas Pide around corner from Shakespeare’s Globe is better suited for a romantic meal.
NORTH LONDON You don’t have to go too far north. Antipilier in Upper Street, Islington, a highway lined with restaurants of every stripe, gets Zagat’s highest rating for food. “When you can’t get to Istanbul, this moderately priced spot offers the next best thing “ says a reviewer. Not far away is Mangal Ocakbasi in Arcola Street, long a favourite of Londoners for its basic décor, and massive portions of charcoal grilled meats and salads at modest prices. Mangal 2 joins a cluster of other Turkish restaurants further north in Stoke Newington Street, and is a favourite of the eccentric artists Gilbert and George. The heart of Turkish restaurants in north London is Green Lanes, 20 minutes on the tube from Piccadilly Circus, where Antiplilier has an outlet. Here familiar Turkish restaurants offer the real basic deal, and Gokyuzohas been ranked second only to Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus on TripAdvisor’s review chart – “The best eating out value I know anywhere in London,” says London Evening Standard critic David Serxton
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