Saturday, 16 May 2009

Eating Eurovision, Turkey - Antepliler on Green Lanes


When we drew Turkey out of the hat for Eating Eurovision we knew we had hit the jackpot. Having been on a gastro-trip to Istanbul we knew we liked the food and had a frame of reference, albeit fairly limited.

We received dozens of brilliant suggestions on where to find the heart of the Turkish community in London and almost all of them led to either Green Lanes or Stoke Newington. Some say they are the same place. Others disagree. On the sage advice from Niahm, @astareny and @lovelychaos and backed up by a great review on Travels with my Fork, we headed to Green Lanes in search of Antepliler.

Antepliler

According to Ahmed, who seemed to either be the owner, or at the very least heavily involved in Antepliler, their restaurant is the most authentic Turkish restaurant in London. This is backed up by the Time Out review which indicates that Antepliler serves a far more interesting range of Turkish food than anywhere else. On top of the normal kebabs they serve a fascinating, and delicious, variety of food that is from the "Food Paradise" region of Soth Eastern Turkey known as "Gaziantep". According to Ahmed at lunch time they have around 80% turkish diners and during the evening it is around 50%. It is certainly one of the restaurants at the heart and soul of the Turkish community.

We placed ourselves in the hands of our fabulous waiter with the instructions that we wanted to taste and learn about proper Turkish food. The dshes we were served were fabulous. The spicing was intelligent, the grease levels were low, and the flavours shone through like a black thong under a white linen skirt.

The great thing about Antepliler is that they combine my two favourite cooking methods - wood fired ovens and the charcoal grill. This means you are guaranteed smokey, charred flavours. And lots of meat.

Wood fired oven

Here's how our meal panned out.

Starters

Hummus

Hummus is hummus isn't it? Well this was particulary good. Creamy and rich with olive oil. We landed up smearing it on everything!

Haloumi

Halloumi was beautifully grilled to a gentle char and barely squeaked on the teeth.

Aubergine

Patlican Kizartma
was my favouirte dish. As it was also for our waiter who recommended it with great gusto. The slices of aubergine were smokey and reminded me of our trip to Istanbul. The tomato and garlic sauce made for a simple but powerful backdrop.

Ezme

Ezme was a essentially a Turkish salsa that lent heat, context and zing to the rest of our starters. It is made with crushed chillies, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and lots of other goodies. You can find a good recipe here.

Icli Kofte

Icli kofte were awesome. They are like Turkish scotch egggs but with minced lamb instead of pork and no egg! The crispy shell and deeply savoury lamb mince were a match made in heaven with the ezme.

Lahmacun

Lahmacun is a bit like the garlic pizza brad you get in Strada, but much, much better. And Turkish! All the tables around us were gorging on bowlfulls of it which can be used as the implement to eat all the amazing starters. It is a crispy Turkish flat bread topped with minced lamb, garlic, tomato and peppers. It was a revelation and something that is definitely going to be cooked in our pizza oven!

Mains

Gunahkar Pide

Gunahkar pide was billed on the menu as "surprise". So we had to have it. It was like a pizza but with more earthy spices that it's Italian cousins where the basil and the tomato have zip, this had a more bass feel to it. A topping of egg, sausage and tomato was fun, but not our favourite. We'll stick with pizza.

Alti Ezmeli Tavuk s

Alti Ezmeli Tavuk was a chicken kebab served with a spicy tomato sauce that was really excellent. The meat was tender and licked with the addictive flavour that only a charcoal grill can deliver.

Tavuklu

Tavuklu is a speciality that you have to order 40 minutes in advance. It arrived straight from the wood fired oven, sizzling with the sort of heat you normally find in a nuclear explosion. It's a chicken caserole, like a tagine, but with more spice and a rich base of tomatoey sweetness. It had us squabbling about who was going to get the last bite. We loved it and have been informed that it doesn't often pop up on other Turkish restaurant's menus.

Vegy kebab

Vegy kebabs were just that. The peppers and aubergine were sweet and smoky. Just how we like them. The bulgar wheat and yoghurt were a great way of soaking up some of the juices and calming the heat.

Pirzola

Pirzola are charcoal grilled lamb cutlets that brought out the hunter gather instinct in us. Gnawing on a hot, sweet, juicy piece of lamb is one of life's great pleasures. The meat wasn't the most tender, but then again the flavour was delicious.

Afters

Baklava

By this stage our chairs were creaking and a number of buttons were looking pretty precarious. So we did our best to make our excuses and leave, but our waiter was having none of it. He insisted on brining us a complimentary plate of baklava from their patissierie next door. On the way home we debated whether baklava is worse for you thank Turkish Delight and the view was that they must be. But never mind that. They tasted amazing with the sweetness of honey and depth from the vivid green pistaccio.

Ayran

Intrigued by the fact that all of the other tables were drinking what looked like milk we ordered a glass of Ayran which is actually soured yoghurt with salt. Apparently it aids digestions and helps to combat some of the spicier dishes. Although we didn't drink it all, we enjoyed it. Oddly it reminded me of Actimels.

Turkish tea

We finished with a glass of the strongest tea I've ever had. It had the bitterness of coffee and lightness of tea which is quite a weird combination. That said, it made for a fabulous end to a memorable and very educational meal.

We wondered home via various Turkish delis and bought some Turkish Delight to keep us going on the way home. If you want to discover the brilliant world of Turkish food, then head on down to Green Lanes and pay Antepliler a visit. You won't be disappointed.

Antepliler, 46 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, Harringay, N4 1AG

Antepliler on Urbanspoon
Tel: 020 8802 5588

14 comments:

Su-Lin said...

I'm totally going to mention this place to my Turkish friend - not sure she knows about it. The food looks AMAZING. Not sure where you fit it all though!

lovelychaos said...

Wow - you've had an absolute feast! Glad you enjoyed it. I stay on Green Lanes when in London and can't get enough. We are always popping out for the takeout lahmacuns with salad, tea while-u-wait!

Jess

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

I was really envious when you drew this one as this was exactly where I was going to head to, it's been on my list for a while. It looks incredible.

canelvr said...

That looks so very good. Was that just the two of you putting all that away?!

Browners said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Browners said...

@Su-Lin - The food was brilliant. And very good value. Between 4 of us it was only 80 quid for a vast amount of food.

@lovelychaos - lahmacuns and tea while you wait sounds brilliant. I wish there was one near me so I don't have to trek across London for it.

@dinnerdiaries - sorry we got your number one choice. But hopefully we've inspired you to go. It really is very good indeed.

@canevlr - luckily there were 4 of us so we got to sample a lot of food. It's the kind of place that suits communal eating.
@

Helen said...

I really admire your appetites - good work! It looks really, really good actually. I'm definitely going to check it out. I really need to try putting much more oil in my hummus, I think that might be where I'm going wrong.

Browners said...

@Helen - it's all about going to these places en-masse so you can tuck into the entire menu. No messing around with only 2 dishes each. And yes, the more olive oil the better! Yum.

Kake said...

Sounds great. I already have this place on my to-try list.

Re hummous... it may sound counter-intuitive, but I feel hummous is best made without olive oil. The olive oil should be drizzled over afterwards. Incorporating too much oil into the actual hummous will thicken it up and you'll lose some of that lovely lightness and creaminess.

Also, skin the chickpeas first. Chickpea skins are not delicious, and will coarsen the texture while doing nothing for the flavour. (I have an explanation of a quick and simple way to skin them here.)

Ira L said...

The food looks so good. I miss Turkish cuisine. I haven't been to Turkey in 9 years. We have some good Turkish restaurants in Chicago, but nothing compared to Istanbul.

goodshoeday said...

This looks totally amazing. Good job there was 4 of you to get through that spread though - definitely best done communally. Think I need to explore Turkish food this summer.

Gourmet Chick said...

I am very jealous - your meal looks absolutley fantastic and I think I will try and eat at this place even without the excuse of the eurovision contest.

Browners said...

@Kake - thanks for the hummus tips. I'm just greedy and like using olive oil whenever I can.

@Ira L - I'm developing quite a fondness for Turkish food. Any cuisine where clay ovens and BBQs feature heavily has me hooked!

@Goodshoeday - I love it when food is for sharing. Some types of food are better suited to it than others.

@Gourmetchick - definitely go to Antepliler. But make sure you pack a big appetite and take some eating assistants so you can try as much of the menu as possible. Have fun.

gfh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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