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.
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