A taste of Turkey in the north-east, our restaurant reviewer samples some fine fare at the Esplanade-based eatery.
There are certain things in life I never tire of seeing – the view along Aberdeen beachfront is one of them. Another is the menu at Turkish Kitchen.
So I enjoyed the best of both worlds as the restaurant occupies a splendid position looking out to sea.
The menu was a magic carpet of aromas and flavours with some probably woven from the Ottoman empire of old, which stretched wide and far from Turkey.
As well as conquering its neighbours, it embraced dishes from the Mediterranean, North Africa and Eastern Europe into its own culinary culture. Turkish Kitchen offers a modern take with a dizzy array of options reflecting these past influences from various exotic places.
It was a pleasant sunny evening; light and shade dancing off the waves always makes the seafront look different with each visit. People were even queueing outside ice cream parlours along the esplanade at 7pm.
At other times of the year only the brave would do so – running the risk of turning into a frozen iced lolly themselves.
We arrived soon after “normality” had made its cautious first steps back into the hospitality world after our nightmare pandemic lockdown.
The Aberdeen beachfront – including businesses such as Turkish Kitchen – has a symbolic role to play in the north-east’s economic revival.
Over those dark months of personal restrictions I could tell people were aching for the beach to return to normal.
Come rain or shine, masked customers did their best to keep cafe culture alive by queueing outside their favourite places for the takeaway service.
But now the shackles were off and people were really going for it; so much so that, to our horror, we could see the table we had booked was occupied.
I had popped in a week before to book a nice cubicle near the entrance. Mortified, a waitress was full of apologies, but was able to place us in another one next to it.
The place was far busier than we had imagined and I drank in the atmosphere.
I had forgotten the wonderful conviviality of a busy restaurant in full flow.
It took ages to order, but not because there was anything lacking in the service. It was just so much fun poring over a menu that looked similar to dishes we had eaten elsewhere around the world, but had a new spin and unfamiliar names.
In fact, the service here was excellent and never flagged throughout a busy night as the waiting staff checked regularly that we were OK with everything. At one point I turned my head to gaze at the general activity and within seconds a waiter was at my side inquiring if I needed anything. That was a nice touch from a well-drilled and alert team.
Finally, choices were made for our three-course feast, but there was an added bonus as they threw in delicious home-baked Turkish bread and salad with the starter.
I love bread, but not at the start of a meal, so I usually follow the Martin Crane school of dining etiquette. I don’t know if you are familiar with him, but he’s not a famous chef.
He is the father of Frasier Crane in the brilliant long-running US comedy series Frasier.
I always remember his advice in an episode when Frasier was booked for a cruise ship lecture. They were getting stuck in to a mountainous free buffet. Martin warned: “You gotta pace yourself, watch out for your fillers like breads. You’ve only got so much room – don’t be a hero.”
I failed to follow his advice and found the flat Focaccia-style bread with heavily-marinated salad irresistible.
We began with hot mezze for two – a sharing plate of small starters – to give us a range of Turkish tastes. The winners for me were rich and tasty sliced Turkish sausage called sucuk and crispy calamari rings. But there were also portions of courgette, falafel and feta cheese.
You cannot ignore kebabs on a Turkish menu and they were going down well with guests, so lamb shish kebab was my wife’s main.
Chargrilled and well done, these were perfect for her as she is not a lover of lamb cooked pink. They were thick, juicy and tender.
Meanwhile, my main was chunks of monkfish cooked and served in foil wrapping with peppers, onions and tomato sauce. As you can imagine, with all that flavour locked together within the foil, the taste was amazing.
A marvellous creamy mashed potato and sauteed mushrooms made up a perfect plate of food.
We somehow summoned the strength for puddings, washed down with thick Turkish coffee.
Baklava is a must as Turkey invented it in its ancient royal palaces; these flaky pastries with honey and nuts really are a dessert to spoil yourself.
For me, an excellent apple crumble and cream, with almond flakes, which is a very Turkish touch.
We enjoyed reconnecting with Turkish Kitchen and were glad to see it had not lost any of its pizzazz since our last pre-pandemic visit.
I looked back at the wine list and noticed a Turkish white called Cankay, described as “elegant, persistent and well-balanced”.
It kind of summed up Turkish Kitchen’s revival as it fights back from lockdown.
Address: Turkish Kitchen Bar and Grill, Unit 1, 9 Sea Beach Esplanade, Aberdeen, AB24 5NS
T: 01224 595333
- Food = 4/5
- Service = 4/5
- Surroundings = 4/5