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Restaurant review: Head to Nargile in Aberdeen for top Turkish cuisine

Nargile in Aberdeen is one of the city's hidden gems when it comes to Turkish cuisine, but what did Julia Bryce make of its offering?

We sampled quite the spread at Nargile. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson
We sampled quite the spread at Nargile. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

I think Tuesdays could potentially be the new Thursdays you know.

My partner and I had committed to date night at the start of the week as we hadn’t spent much quality time together, and while I was convinced we’d be the only couple dining out, the people of Aberdeen decided to prove me wrong.

A busy restaurant on a Tuesday night is a rare occurrence and I was genuinely surprised to see as many people out and about as I did.

Nargile is on Aberdeen’s Skene Street. Image: Kenny Elrick


Stepping into Turkish restaurant Nargile on Skene Street just last week I couldn’t believe how many people there were. Was this a testament to the quality food this restaurant serves up? Or was it the only place open for dinner on a Tuesday night? I was about to find out…

I’ve dined at Nargile before, many moons ago. Nothing had really changed all that much from my last visit years ago, with the venue still boasting the same interior.

The open kitchen and mosaic touches are some of my favourite parts. The bright and bold paintings plus other traditional Turkish ornaments and vases are a feast for the eyes, but it’s the smell of what’s cooking that intrigues me most.

The interior at Nargile hasn’t changed much through the years. Image: Kenny Elrick

Our server for the night, Yolanda, couldn’t have been more attentive or polite. Throughout service she was always checking in ensuring our glasses were never dry nor our dirty plates left too long.

There was easily more than 20 people dining at once and the ambiance was lively, a rare treat for a Tuesday.

The food

I asked Yolanda for her recommendations and the meze platter and kebab were her top two. We’d eyed up the humus and decided another two starters, the saksuka and  sarimsakli kardies (garlic prawns in Turkish), would be sufficient.

Plates were flying from the pass and I could see three chefs working away. Our humus arrived first and the plate was full of the stuff. A basket of warm pitta bread, of which there were three pitta, was served alongside it.

The humus did not disappoint. Image: Kenny Elrick

We were so hungry we dove straight in. It was creamy, garlicky and had a touch of smokiness to it. It was gorgeous.

Every mouthful of this whipped delight was as good as the last and we frantically dipped the fresh bread to ride the high.

The saksuka was next. I’ve never had aubergine like this before. Sauteed, it was tossed in the tomato, onion and garlic sauce of dreams. It was magical. Every morsel was consumed and we both fought to get the last dregs. The veg had been roasted so was very tender and sweet and although Calum felt it was a bit oily, we lapped up every last bit.

The saksuka was full of flavour. Image: Kenny Elrick

The dip served alongside was a garlic yoghurt which reminded me a bit of tzatziki. The bowl was wiped clean.

The king prawns in garlic oil were also very enjoyable but didn’t sing the same way the aubergine did. They came served butterflied with the shell on, but slipped out of it very easily.

Perfectly cooked, they were huge juicy things and came served with a side salad that boasted pickled veg, chillies and fresh lemon.

The prawns weren’t any less enjoyable, the aubergine just stole the show.

We’d underestimated how big the starters would be and judging by the dishes that were placed on neighbouring tables, the mains looked a generous portion, too.

Feast your eyes upon the lamb iskender. Image: Kenny Elrick

You can’t go to Nargile and not order the iskender. The pilch special is the chicken version of this dish and while it too is very good, I’ve now migrated to the iskender with marinated lamb slices.

The dish it was served on was a metal plate that had clearly come straight out of the oven. “It’s hot you know, so don’t touch,” said the gentleman who delivered it to our table.

Pieces of lamb sat on a bed of chopped pitta and were drowned in a halep (garlic, onion and tomato) and butter sauce. A creamy, thick garlic yoghurt was plopped on top and to be honest, it just looked like a big heap of lamb covered in sauce – which it was.

The pitta at the base soaked up a lot of pureed sauce which made it soft and while I thought it would get really mushy, it thankfully didn’t.

We’d decided pre-ordering we’d share the mains and Calum couldn’t speak more highly of the iskender.

Next up was the chicken kebab. Image: Kenny Elrick

His choice, the chicken kebab, also received rave reviews.

Every kebab is served with onion, peppers, rice and salad. While the meats are skewered to cook, they do not come served on a skewer which I felt was a bit of a shame. Although, each piece of chicken, pepper and onion was lined up as if it was on a skewer on the plate.

The meat was cooked excellently with a little chargrilling on the outside. When I stabbed my knife into it clear juices ran slowly out of it slowly. It was very juicy.

We both liked the grilled veg being slightly al dente adding some sweetness and sharpness.

We were stuffed by the end of our meal. Image: Kenny Elrick

There’s also lamb, steak, shish kofte and a mixed kebab with sucuk (Turkish sausage) to choose from when ordering the kebab.

We were absoltuely stuffed and while we debated ordering baklava, we had to decline due to fear of busting our jeans.

Alongside the bill was a chocolate mint and homemade Turkish delight. We loved the confectionary and somehow Calum ended up with icing sugar all over himself. Note to self, don’t exhale too much when consuming Turkish delight.

We waddled back to the car wondering why it had taken us so long to visit. Sometimes it’s OK not to change because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

We loved being able to peek into the kitchen throughout our meal. Image: Kenny Elrick

The verdict

I could not recommend a trip to Nargile more. Whether that be midweek or at the weekend, you’re guaranteed a great time.

Why not enjoy the meze platter for £8.95 per person or one of the set meals and a bottle of wine like the couple eating beside us did? Or go all out and fill your boots like Calum and I. Either way you’re onto a winner.

Some dishes I hope to try next time include the humus with lamb, the filo pastries, pan fried sea bass and the chicken pieces in a warm honey and mustard sauce.


Address: 77-79 Skene Street, Aberdeen AB10 1QD

T: 01224 636093


Price: £64.85