Escaping from the still-baking heat of the Dubai evening, and shown straight to the bar when we arrived at Grosvenor House’s luxurious Turkish restaurant, the friendly waiter first offered us cool towels, aperitifs and salty bar snacks. Lovely. But, as nice as the pre-meal drink was, we could smell the enticing spices and aromas wafting from the kitchen, and the rumble in our stomachs would wait no longer.
The dining area was filled with countless lit candles, which let off a serene glow, giving the muted red decor a decidedly regal feel. We started our Turkish journey with a selection of breads and dips, and trust us, these went down a storm. For appetisers, we plumped for the Cold mezze sampler, oh, and a side of Grilled halloumi. The mezze was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, with stuffed vine leaves, hummus, taze fasulye (a type of green bean stew), acili ezme (a Turkish red pepper dip), ispanakli tarator (a blend of Turkish yoghurt, spinach and garlic) and patlican salatasi (a classic Turkish mezze in which grilled aubergine is the star) filling the platter.
But the highlight of the starters was undoubtedly the Grilled halloumi, flavoured with roasted peppers and served with an olive salad, it was soft, salty and a taste knock-out. We could have picked endlessly at the starters but, fearful of filling up before the main event, we stopped ourselves, and we’re glad that we did! My dining partner ordered the Pirzola, a chive-crusted lamb chop served with a creamy baked – and then mashed – potato with begendi sauce. The lamb was perfectly cooked, and the accompanying mash incredibly soft, and the dish was described as a “taste sensation!” But the best course of the evening, thankfully, found its way in front of me.
The Osmanli izgara tabagi was simply excellent. What is it? Well probably the best mixed grill I’ve ever tasted. The plate was heaving with a grilled lamb chop, an Anatolian kebab, a rib-eye and even chicken, all topped off with rice and vegetables. Unusually for a mixed grill, each different meat had a very distinctive and delicious taste: this was a palate pleaser and one I’ll definitely order again. Full to the brim – or so we thought – we were somehow convinced by the waiter to give a traditional dessert a try. Sutlac, aka a gum mastic-flavoured rice pudding served with vanilla ice cream and pistachio powder, was given the highest commendation, and so we had to try it.
The creamy, luxurious dish was delicately flavoured with Turkish spices and was a delicious end to the meal – or so we thought. As, just as we were falling asleep due to sheer indulgence, we were offered a shot of Turkish coffee – a quick way to wake you up post-meal – and sure enough, after a few minutes we were bouncing off the ceiling, and had it not been a school night, we’d have been ready to keep the night going at Embassy over in Tower Two.
Location Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina
Tel 04 399 8888
Billed as Dubai’s first Anatolian restaurant – which means the western part of Asian Turkey, Lazelar takes you on a fascinating journey back in time, serving Ottoman cuisine in a regal,
Location Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Timing 3pm-midnight, daily
Tel 04 453 0444
This seaside spot serves a wide range of Turkish food, from salads to kebabs. Although not that different from the Lebanese fare on offer all over Dubai, the mixed grill with succulent turkey, beef and lamb kebabs will match those you’ll find in any top eatery. You won’t be disappointed.
Location The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai
Timing 9am-midnight, daily
Tel 04 439 3788
This canteen-style eatery is far from glamorous, but that makes for a refreshing change in Dubai’s sometimes overdone restaurant scene. Oh, and the food, which is served up from a small buffet, is divine – plus they’re famous for their super yummy gelato.
Location Sheikh Zayed Road, DIFC
Timing 6am-10pm, Sun-Thu; 10am-3pm, Fri and 7am-10pm, Sat
Tel 04 370 0377