I’ll be frank, I am in no way familiar with Turkish cuisine — and this really showed during my latest restaurant outing in the Granite City.
Katmer, iskender and dolma were among the dishes that had my friend Lauren and I raising a few eyebrows.
I was initially predicting that I’d have to resort to Google translate, but thankfully the menu at Laila Turkish Cuisine had all the information we needed down to a T.
And wow, they sounded fantastic. But I’ll get to them soon.
Located on Belmont Street, I must admit that if you were in a hurry and not already searching for the restaurant, it’s easily missed. Yes, I’m in that bracket — and that’s even with a hefty sign reading ‘LAILA’ sprawled right above the entrance.
The exterior looks great, and the interior matches that.
Be transported to the Med at Laila Turkish Cuisine — with the help of neighbouring bar by Belmont Street
Dimly lit, I immediately loved the décor inside.
While the predominant colours are black, white and beige — specifically on the furniture and walls — there are eye-catching pieces that help elevate its look.
This includes mustard booths, artificial shrubbery and patterned tiled floors.
With the help of neighbouring food and drink business Rev de Cuba, which we could overlook through the restaurant’s large windows, the pair of us felt as though we were abroad.
Discussion went from discussing our dream holiday destinations to the food. We were ravenous.
Let’s get onto the starters (and exceptional service)…
Each member of the team on shift that Friday evening was exceptional, to say the least.
Every time eye contact was made between us and them, smiles were exchanged. And our main server was a delight.
We requested some Prosecco to sip away at alongside our meal. He said he had just the bottle. Once that arrived, we asked a number of questions about some of the dishes. Of course, they were all answered.
Navigating our fingers to the ones we fancied on the menu, I asked for the grilled halloumi and sucuk (pepperoni) (£8). For Lauren, a portion of the ali nazak (£8).
Before being served, the pair of us were treated to complimentary Turkish flatbread and a trio of dips.
I’m not a big fan of yoghurt and garlic dips — shocking, I know — but Lauren said it was the best garlic dip she’d tasted, describing it as creamy and packed full of flavour.
As for the bread, it was crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. All I could think was how tasty a drizzling of honey and/or cheese across the top would be. I’ll request both in the future as I’m sure the team would happily oblige.
There was little left, however the remains were kept on the table as we tucked into our starters. They came in a matter of minutes.
Lauren and I shared them, although I will say that most of the dishes had been devoured by yours truly.
The sucuk, cut into uniform rectangular strips, had an enticing smoky aroma. It was slightly salty and tangy, pairing beautifully with the mild halloumi that had a nice squeak to it as hoped.
As for the ali nazak, this was easily one of the best dishes I’ve tried. Ever.
Comprising lamb shish served on a bed of smoked aubergine puree with yoghurt and a drizzle of butter, I would buy this by the bucket load if this exact recipe was available in stores.
The puree was soft, thick and perfectly spiced and the buttery flavour pulled everything together. As for the chunks of lamb, it had a gamey taste and tender texture.
It came served with even more Turkish flatbread — result — so we dipped away until realising we had to leave some room for our mains.
The hefty portions — that leave you yearning for more — keep on coming
The mains were equally as inviting and hefty as the starters. Again, they arrived at the table in no time.
Our Prosecco was going down well too. Light and citrusy, it teamed well with our food.
On my side of the table was the sac kavurma (£21). The price worried me initially, but I cannot emphasise enough that it is incredible value for money.
Pan-fried beef had been placed on top of a bed of vegetables, including peppers and chillis, coated in tomato sauce and butter.
Rich with a slightly sweet undertone, the beef was another winner. The same goes for the soft and tangy veg.
Another thing I adored about this dish? I was treated to more bread. Did I finish it? Yes, I did.
Lauren was equally as happy with her choice — the grilled chicken iskender (£19) — I was too once I secured a few pieces of chicken for myself.
It was slightly charred on the outside adding a lovely smokiness. Once pierced, you could see the juices flowing out of the thick slices. It was a delight.
I mentioned earlier that she adored the complimentary yoghurt dip. Well, her eyes lit up when she realised that her main was served with even more — along with the same assortment of veg that I had been treated to (cut into larger chunks). Oh, and more bread.
I wish I could say that we demolished the lot, but our stomachs had already expanded more than they had in some time. We both mentioned this to each other on a few occasions.
Requesting the bill, the pair of us sipped away at the remains of our drinks and thanked the team for an incredible experience.
As I write this review four days after my visit to Laila Turkish Cuisine, I’m already desperate to be Bebek.
Not only were the staff a sheer delight from start to finish, but the setting transported us and the food was stellar.
One thing I will say if you’re heading to Laila Turkish Cuisine, it would be to go hungry. They don’t skimp on the portion sizes — not in any way a fault, just a heads up.
Address: Unit 10A, Belmont Street, Aberdeen AB10 1LB
T: 01224 637850
Price: £77 for two starters, two mains and a bottle of Prosecco
- Food: 4.5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5