The starter options for the night are brought on a tray to the table and explained by the waiter – there were 18 cold, and four hot, options on the evening of our visit. Each looked equally tempting, but we were very satisfied with the choices we made, even though we couldn’t quite shrug off a FOMO feeling.
The baba ganoush and dolmades were exquisitely prepared and tasty; the phyllo pastry cigars refreshingly non-oily and filled with a redolent mix of spinach and feta; and the lamb liver as scrumptious as I’ve ever eaten. The mains options are offered buffet-style – a variety of lamb, chicken and vegetarian stews, and lamb and chicken kebabs. The lamb rib stew was a happy choice – very tender meat in an unctuous gravy, and a portion large enough to satisfy on the night and provide leftovers for home consumption. The chicken kebab was less successful – the chicken a little over-cooked and dry. And the rice served with both showed the signs of having spent quite a long time in the warmer – it had lost its fluff.
The chocolate pot is the favourite dessert, but the poached quince with creamy yoghurt and the baklava also have their devoted adherents.
The wine list is decent – some familiar brands interspersed with more individualistic brands like Trizanne Signature Wines and Alvis’s Drift and Luddite. Pity the by-the-glass selection is so bland. There is a very good craft beer inventory, and the cocktail options – like the Turkish Rose martini, Tears of Istanbul, Turkish Blues – are temptingly named.
Anatoli generally has a decent reputation for friendly service, so perhaps our waiter was having a bad night. He was efficient enough, but rather perfunctory and disengaged.
The bar at the entrance is cosy and welcoming; the décor is pleasingly regional, and the lighting and Turkish music make for an authentic visit to another culture.
The mezze plate is the highlight of the evening, so go with a large crowd and feast on all the options.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Tasty, authentic food in a setting straight out of old Istanbul hit all the right spots at this cosy eatery. Starters are served from a large tray, with each one explained by knowledgable waiters. Choose from the likes of smoky baba ghanoush, lamb koftas, spicy olives, hummus or dolmades and a smorgasbord of dips paired with piping hot, chewy flatbreads – garlic or plain. For mains, the choice between a variety of traditional lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes, plus kebabs, is a tough decision. Be warned, portions are generous. Try the lamb shank, which is slow-cooked in orange juice and served on a smoked brinjal purée, or lahana dolmasi, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, lamb mince, pine nuts and herbs. Desserts include the likes of a traditional Turkish rice pudding with rose-water and a sublime dark chocolate mousse gently fragranced with cardamom and cinnamon.
Drinks: A fairly extensive wine list, with a few options available by the glass. There is also an interesting cocktail list, try the Turkish delight martini or tears of Istanbul – raki shaken with crème de menthe and apple juice.
The staff are attentive and knowledgeable, but things can become quite busy.
The interior is lit by low lighting, tasteful décor and traditional Turkish music make for an authentic experience.
End your meal with a traditional Turkish coffee.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.