The difficulty in writing this review was not caused directly by the restaurant but by the fact that I mentioned to a certain person that my daughter Lindsey and I were about to have a meal there.
Lindsey and I were on a flying visit up to the capital of the Republic of Yorkshire to visit the university’s open day. Having traipsed around much of the city centre enjoying the views, we decided to go back to the place just around the corner from our hotel – a smart Turkish restaurant called Kapadokya 50. This made a pleasant change for her, having been to a succession of Chinese buffets with friends, and having visited Wagamama with her mum on the previous university visit in Bath. Turkish reminded us both of a previous holiday in Turkey and the place seemed worthy of our custom. Why not try?
Back came the text from the person I shall name only as P:
- P: “Oh it’s not Kapadokya is it? Had a very mediocre meal there.”
- Me: “Yes. Oh!”
- P: “Oh dear, let’s hope they have improved”
- Me: “Looks nice, including the food on other tables”
- P: “It was OK. I have tasted much better Turkish food. Enjoy, you might like it.”
What was it she disliked so much? Not the appearance of the place, since from inside and out it looked rather smart, with tasteful Turkish decor. They were far from full, so finding a table was easy enough – many of the fellow diners were parents and children on the same mission to explore the university, funnily enough.
Reading deeper, you can find more about the restaurant and its decor:
“Kapadokya 50 is a traditional Turkish run family restaurant, owned by Hayati & Mithat Kucukkoylu.
The food is cooked on a traditional BBQ grill and is all freshly sourced and prepared every day. Choose from a wide selection of starters and main courses including marinated meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes, complemented with fresh salads and a delightful range of traditional Turkish desserts.
Watch your food being char-grilled on the open BBQ by our Turkish chef, in the relaxing dining room, and experience our Turkish hospitality at its finest.
Most people who are interested in travel will know of Kapadokya, the area of Turkey after which the restaurant takes its name, and which is famous for its spectacular cave-like houses and temples. Kapadokya is a prime agricultural region and survives as a name for one of Turkey’s most visited tourist areas. The history of Kapadokya began with the eruption of two volcanoes that spread a thick layer of hot volcanic ash over the region. The volcanic ash hardened and became ‘tufa’, a soft porous stone that over time was moulded by the wind and rain into the strange conical towers we see today. These shapes with their harder tops are known as ‘fairy chimneys’ which were used as homes.
In more recent times the fairy chimneys are used as cold storage for lemons and apricots grown nearby. People come from all over the world to visit the open air museum and explore the rock hewn churches and dwellings in the surrounding valleys to gaze at the fairy chimneys and plumb the depths of the underground cities of the beautiful, breathtaking Kapadokya.
Mitat, the owner, wanted to create a restaurant which looked right aswell as offering a fine menu. He brought in designer Phil Cook of Scarborough to create the right appearance, and Phil has combined old and new ideas. Phil says: “I’ve gone for a traditional Turkish look with a modern English twist. A lot of material has been hand-made in Turkey for the restaurant, including customised metallic dishes, panels and ceramics.” There are also framed pictures of traditional Turkish scenes from the days of the Ottoman Empire.”
All sounds, and looks, splendid. Maybe it was the service? Not on this occasion, since the waitresses were unquestionably charming; ours discharged her services with a ready smile and neither added service charge nor left the credit card slip open, so no complaints there. Ordering drinks worked well too – they provided Lindsey with glasses of tap water without a murmur, and also Efe’s Turkish beer, albeit at a stiff markup of £3 for a half pint glass.
So surely it had to be the food? The menu includes many Turkish specialties, many not often seen in the UK, though if you are familiar with Greek equivalents you will know for example that Incik equates to Kleftiko (AKA “stolen lamb”)- the now ubiquitous lamb shank. Then there are the grills, not to mention hot and cold starters.
Lindsey passed on the starters, even the tempting range of dips. I’d like to tell you the Turkish name of my starter, but for some reason it is omitted from the online menu. However, it was described as Turkish potato croquettes stuffed with a variety of cheese, and very tasty it was too. P was scathing about the presentation, based on my pic (see above), though to me it looks more than adequate if not quite up to the standards of Le Gavroche. Maybe I’m losing my touch?
Our main courses were selected in rather more of a hurry since we were both hungry, and as always excessive choice just blinds the diner. Lindsey chose from the main course list: “Sebzeli Kofte: meatballs cooked in the oven with a rich tomato sauce, potatoes, green peppers, peas, carrots, tomatoes and onion, served with rice in a clay dish.” The dish did not look anything special, but daughter and dad agreed it was richly flavoursome and did exactly what it claimed. Not the most incredible meatballs ever sampled (try fresh-made Swedish frikadeller for that), but you cannot ask of not any food more than that it humbly fulfilled its function and satisfied its diner.
Arguably I copped out by choosing the mixed grill (“A sumptuous platter of char-grilled lamb shish, adana, chicken shish and pirzola lamb chops served with rice and salad”), though it is the British way when faced by vast choice to select a dish that gives you a taster of several items. The meat, chicken and kebabs were all perfectly grilled. The rice was the weakest component, being a tad soggy and not up to the standard of rice I would expect of my own cooking, but otherwise full marks to the grill chef for an excellent job done well. And even P was forced to admit it did look good.
Tempting though it was, we drew the line at the traditional Turkish desserts, not to mention teas and coffees. Turkish coffee, for all the various options offered here, is not something that really grabbed me – either for its sweetness or the inevitable tendency to finish by munching on coffee grains.
As we returned to our hotel, I was left wondering what was so terrible that P gave me a warning. Granted all restaurants can have an off-night, or even an off-15 minutes, but Kapadokya 50 seemed an assured and reliable place to eat, somewhere that knows its onions. If she has tasted much better Turkish food, it must have been one hell of a restaurant!!
Anyway, we’re all different. And we all change our minds too, often in the same sentence! Maybe I will take P back there some day so we can compare again to see who is right? Or maybe I will convince her that she is simply wrong!