Turkey, anyone?

Juno was never oneJuno and turkey to miss the lip-smackingly tasty opportunity of turkey…

But even she would have been proud, if initially confused, of what her native London has recently served up under the name of Turkey.

To begin with there was the strangely un-metropolitan surroundings offered up by a gentle stroll along the Regents Canal between Mile End and Angel. Who would think from the following view that you were in the centre of one of the world’s largest and most recognised cities?

Regents canal [1]

But gradual progress was to take us into something more akin to metro-land as we approached the newly gentrified Islington…

Regents canal [2]

Upper Street is widely known as one of London’s premier eatery locations, with much of the world’s cuisines represented along its mile. Yet, as with Broadway in New York, you can be well served by a glance just a few yards off the main drag, as we were to be on this occasion. From Istanbul to Beirut was a call not to be missed… conjuring up all of the culinary allure of a Turkish and Lebanese fusion.

Kilis Kitchen [2]

Kilis Kitchen comes with nothing but the highest of recommendations; small but intimate at the front but with a lighter additional room to the rear.

Kilis Kitchen [3]

But you need time to takeKilis Kitchen [4] in the fabulous menu (and even try the Turkish red wine).

Dolma (stuffed vine leaves) with Sucuk (spicy lamb sausage) made a tasty mix from the starter…

Kilis kitchen [5]

 

Then comes a shish kebab to make you forget whatever it is that those fast food take-aways churn out. Succulent tender char-grilled lamb skewers proved a truly mouth-watering taste; but I am sure Juno would have turned up her nose at the lightly grilled green chilli pepper, and the tastiest of side salads, let alone the basmati rice (to her it would have been a waste of plate space better devoted to meat and more meat!).

My vegetarian companion was equally complimentary about the char-grilled halloumi starter and pan-fried marinated sardines main course. What’s more, the evidence emerged that Turkish-Lebanese combinations have learned the art of perfect chips!

Juno readyThis meal left both of us feeling like Juno’s more usual post-banquet pose…

But we had to make do with another stroll along the busy boulevard of Upper Street as it teemed with the late evening diners.

Until we speak again, don’t be drawn to the main drag when some of the real jewels are often just left-field.

Searching for Lebanon

This week my global food navigator set the dial for Lebanon; we are eating Lebanese they said, without any further explanation as to how or when this event was going to occur. After all, we are in Cardiff; this isn’t exactly the multicultural banqueting feast that a London or a New York could boast of. Quick as a flash I jokingly replied… what breed of dog is that again? But my humour-deprived, equal opportunities promoting, sage of political correctness only threw me a look of disdain.

This search wasn’t going to be easy. So I consulted my world music collection for some background inspiration. Alphabetically pawing my way through, I arrive at Kyrgyzstan (top 10 crooners of the 1950’s)… Latvia (Elvis thrash metal tribute)… ah, Lebanon (Middle Eastern Motown Soul). Purring to the rhythmic sounds of a Beirut night, I try out the computer gizmo in search of the place they locally call ‘Naroush’. They are supposed to have a website, but the first part of the difficult search failed to locate it. Thanks to TripAdvisor the internet delivers again; and the reviews suggest a real treat is in store. ‘In store’ is an interesting phrase regarding this particular culinary delight; from the outside you get the picture that you have arrived, but… how do you get in? 

Naroosh [1]

 

The entrance looks like it is a clothes shop rather than a restaurant. Good observation, because it is a clothes shop! This suddenly brings back fearful memories of old American movies where you always have to go through some kind of a laundry at the street shopfront, and there would be some gangster types operating out back. Is this going to be the Hezbollah Kebab Shop? I wondered. Am I going to be the hors d’oeuvre? 

Naroush [3]All fears are laid to rest as we turn at the top of the stairs. We walk into a brightly lit all-white decor restaurant. It turns out to be a good omen, being blinded by the decor was a prelude to being blinded by the cuisine. Fortunately, my personal food taster had the ingenuity to have booked a veranda table in advance, so there was less need for me to continue using the shades while eating.

          620 × 414 – kittentoob.com [Picture from images of cats in sunglasses].

Don’t eat much before coming to this place, as the quality is great and the portions fit for a fat-cat. We tried the Mixed Mezza and a Fatoush Salad to share as starters:

Naroush [5]

 

Chicken Musahab and the Sea Bass rapidly followed (even before we had completely digested the starter):

Naroush [6]          Naroush [4]

 

 

There is no alcohol license here, but never fear you don’t need the ‘falling down juice’ when you have the best selection of mixed fruit cocktails and boosters we have seen. They more than compliment the food. Just for a change from my usual water bowl I tried the Mango, Strawberry, Kiwi & Mint combo… delicious. My fellow cat tried the Fig, Strawberry and Papaya. The only shame was the other 14 options of cocktails we didn’t get to try out. We left ‘pleasantly stuffed’, and with the feeling this is definitely somewhere to come back to again soon.

Naroosh [2]

 

The staff were friendly and welcoming, but we did need to chase up the order of drinks a couple of times. But it was certainly great value for money; which just goes to show how much gets spent on the alcohol so often in restaurants.

That is it from Beirut in downtown Cardiff. Until I get the chance to spin that globe again and put a paw on another country, I have been Juno your good food finder, and I hope to speak with you again soon.