Islington isn’t the first place that comes to mind when talk turns to Turkish food. All that glistening grilled meat and multi-dish meze spreads is far more Dalston and Green Lanes, a natural habitat for great Anatolian food.
The N1 scene, such as it is, was dominated by the busy Gallipoli boys, all dancing on tables and tasty apple tea. But food that hardly sets my taste buds alight. So there was excitement when I saw Antepliler, one of Green Lanes’ best, open an upmarket joint on Upper Street.
The place is named after Antep, an area of SE Turkey famous for its kebabs, baklava and, if this place is anything to go by, pide – a type of Turkish pizza . Because frankly, the Lahmacun pide they serve here is better than most Italian pizza I’ve eaten.
A paper thin crust baked to crispy perfection and topped a herby and aromatic minced lamb. The aromas rising from it were enough to set my tummy a-rumbling. And that was after the world’s biggest lunch. Superb.
The hummus was another highlight. A smooth and gently spiced delight both light and filling. There was none of that cloying tang that laces the commercially produced stuff. This home made version came topped with succulent grilled strips of lamb and a fruity olive oil.
The flat bread that came with it was soft, airy and had obviously just been made. And the chilli sauce – also freshly made – was a revelation. Fruity and textured with a decent bite to it. I would have been happy scooping it in by the spoonful.
Stuffed vegetables were good, with dolma that actually tasted of something. Hellim cheese was grilled not fried and wonderfully squeaky (a good thing). But the Borek – cheese stuffed pastries rolled like cigars – were all mouth and no trousers. A real shame.
Mains were decently grilled meats and fresh tasty vegetables. And while they were well cooked, with a tasty charred exterior and good quality meat, next to the Lahmacun and hummus they just kinda faded into a blur. A lot better than most on Upper St though.
Baklava however, was a great end to the meal. The restaurant have obviously recruited some Antep expertise, because these were superb.Treading that fine line between too sickly sweet and over dry with aplomb, these babies were beautiful. Nutty, honeyed pastries with a delightful crunchy bite.
The service though was weirdly hit and miss. Varying from the over solicitous at the start to pretty much non-existent at the end. Our empty be-crumbed plates were left on the table for over 30 minutes before being cleared and dessert offered. It took another 15 to get the bill. Bizarre considering there were two staff and only three tables eating. If they can sort this out then this should be a success, because the food is pretty good.
The meal was pretty reasonable with meze plates and Lahmacun being between £3.50 and £5 each and main around £10-£12.
Antepliler, 139 Upper St, London, N1 1QP, Tel: 020 7226 5441 www.anteplilerrestaurant.com