I’ve experienced two sides to Turkey, both of which I’ve really enjoyed. Ölüdeniz is a backpacker’s paradise, with chilled-out lagoons, scuba and tandem paragliding. It’s a far cry from the meat markets of Marmaris and Bodrum, and many restaurants are surprisingly good at delivering Turkish dishes and tourist-pleasing fayre.
Up north in Istanbul, things are cool in different ways. It’s a fascinating place that has loads to offer a visitor for a few days, and everything about it smells amazing, from the shisha cafes full of traditional food, to the lemony wafts of haman. Even the busy Bosphorous and its kerb-side grills of mackarel and kebob just resonates with deliciousness.
The Konak Meze shyly arrived on the fringe of Harrogate town centre a few months back. They did a meal deal on local radio station Stray FM which caught my attention, as well as the enthusiastic reviews from the station DJs who had been to try it out. We bought a voucher as a mid-week treat, not quite knowing what to expect from this curious new addition to town.
The restaurant is a converted house, and so it feels quirkily awkward upon entry. The staff were very pleasant and served us a bottle of Languedoc-Roussillon white* at their tiny bar, whilst our table was prepared. We sat in a bay window that was draped in awesome Ottoman-style curtains, on beautiful leather and brass-studded chairs. It was a simple elegance that oozed character.
We ordered the hot sharing meze to start. It was enormous, easily sufficient for three or even four diners to share as a lighter appetiser. Luckily Mr Bruce and I have the appetite of a rugby team, and we devoured the halloumi, falafel, meatballs, squid, feta parcels and deliciously unmistakeable turkish beef sausage (sucuk).
As if we weren’t actually worryingly stuffed by this point, we tackled our mains of a traditional baked meatball casserole, and a ‘Konak Grill’ with gusto. My casserole was deceptively dainty in appearance, rich in flavour and well cooked. Mr Bruce looked happy with his plate of assorted grilled meats, flanked with a lovely sultana rice that was soft and well-suited to the smokiness of the meat.
I was sorry to have to turn down a dessert menu, offering traditional treats such as baklava and baked rice pudding – but I will be back to try this out! A relaxed place to try out Turkish food without the hint of a sleazy holiday waiter. Hats off to Fettah and his team for providing great food and polite service.
Ps – a testament to our absolute stuffedness is the fact that we went to The Old Bell Tavern for a pint afterwards, and couldn’t actually drink it. Can you imagine?
*This is actually the ‘house white’, and we couldn’t believe how good it was. We only picked it because we stayed in the Languedoc-Roussillon on honeymoon, and the wine was terrific there .
Konak Meze, 11-13 Mount Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. HG1 1BX. Tel: 01423 500330