Wednesday, 1 April 2009


north london is supposed to be home to a fair number of turkish restaurants. i happen to have two of these on the road that i live on. one on highbury park and the other up blackstock road. a saturday afternoon found me at iznik, in the company of o and i. there is no mistaking the turkish identity of iznik. its décor bears the unmistakable stamp of turkish tiles and lamps. the lighting is dim and gives the space a tavern like feel.

 what i love about turkish food is the wholesome flavors, usually emphasized with very little spice save salt, some herbs and lemon. the turks love yoghurt and will use it to add a creamy and yet tangy taste to their foods. o’s warm mezze of courgette and feta cheese fritters came with a yoghurt dip with cucumber, garlic and mint; a turkish rendition of greek tzatziki or asian raita. i started with a lentil soup pureed to smoothness with a hint of stock and finished with a swirl of olive oil and a scattering of herbs.

 our mains were substantial and we found it difficult to finish everything. i had the tavuk sis. bite sized pieces of chicken on silver skewers rubbed in a marinate that tasted distinctly of lemon, a hint of oregano and very good quality olive oil. the chicken itself was really tender. a green salad tossed in a tart vinaigrette accentuated the simple flavors. the rice was drizzled in olive oil and lightly salted. i loved the simple flavors and good quality ingredients that went into the dish. on the other side of the table o was having a similar experience with a signature dish, very similar to mine but made with marinated chicken breasts. for drinks i had mint tea, fresh mint leaves stepped in boiling water. o had a turkish yoghurt drink called aryan; a slightly salt drinking yoghurt with some oregano.

 although the dessert menu was tempting we had virtually no space for guily pleasures. perhaps next time.