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A banquet full of Eastern promise; Taste Test MARC WADDINGTON goes Mediterranean.


The weather is far from Mediterranean at the moment, but that doesn''t seem to stop me eating no end of salad in the hope of staving off the post-Christmas spread. With the exception of a sausage and mash the other night, I''ve pretty much managed to cling to the wagon by my fingernails.

But, of course, Mediterranean food isn''t all cold, although there''s nothing like some cooling leaves and tomatoes when the sun is beating down on you. But in the absence of the sun, my girlfriend and I decided to go for the hot Mediterranean option - and hot it certainly was.

I''ve eaten more Greek food than I can remember over the years (having a Greek restaurant across the road from my old flat saw to that), but I realised as we walked up Station Road in Hoylake and came across a small, inconspicuous little place that I had never eaten Turkish food. Well, not that didn''t come served in a polystyrene box at two in the morning, anyway.

So we decided to take a chance at the Antep BBQ, a traditional Turkish eatery that promised authentic cuisine from its namesake region in the south east of the country, close to the Syrian border.

The restaurant was a modest place, perhaps around 15 tables, and so even when not completely full it had a good atmosphere, added to by the sizzle and smoke from the charcoal grill at the front of the open kitchen, at which the grill man dutifully but calmly toiled throughout the duration of our meal.

The menus arrived and we purveyed these new and unusual dishes over the olives and chargrilled bread that came compliments of the waiter. The olives were delicious in the aromatic oil, and the bread with its sesame seed topping was warm and nutty.

Although the names of the dishes were unfamiliar to me, the kebabs and some of the vegetarian dishes I recognised from my other Mediterranean friend's restaurant. And as I saw the kebabs go out to other tables, I was heartened to see these were the real thing (Wikipedia''s listing for 'kebab'' starts with the caveat 'not to be confused with doner kebab'', after all).

As we chose our starters, the waiter brought over a dish which he said was a regional favourite, a fiery tomato-based sauce infused with garlic, onion, chilli and the mint and parsley so often found in Mediterranean food. We ended up needing more bread to mop it all up.

By this time I was worried there''d be no room for dishes we were actually paying for, but I was determined to get through them. My Halka Kalamar (calamari, PS3.70) was beautifully soft inside, although the batter was slightly thicker than I''d been used to elsewhere. Still, with the lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce, it was a solid opener, and at an extremely reasonable price.

My girlfriend chose the Hellim (PS3.20), a Cypriot haloumi-style cheese served simply on lettuce. I''m not always convinced by haloumi, which I sometimes find bland, but this was full of nutty flavour and the texture was smooth but just robust enough.

To accompany we chose BBQ Biber (PS3), which were slow-cooked red peppers drizzled in oil, sweet and hot and a great accompaniment to the other two portions.

Our appetites whetted, we awaited the main events, myself having opted for the Adana (PS11). I had considered the intriguing-sounding yoghurt kebab (which wasn''t just yoghurt, I hasten to add), but was too tempted by the Adana''s chopped lamb and peppers. The skewered meat was so tender it fell apart when you picked up the fork, and with the parsley and chilli the flavours were all distinct but worked to create a great dish.

My girlfriend chose the vegetarian Sebze Guvek (PS10), a pot of juicy tomatoes, melting aubergine and alive with the flavours of okra and herbs. Topped with feta, it was a lighter dish than mine and probably just about enough after the substantial starters. Luckily, the cool, crisp salad didn''t take up too much space (although by now the table was creaking under the weight of all the different plates before us).

Equally substantial was the Turkish wine, a fabulous red that was dry but full-bodied, ideal for the dishes and worthy of the PS16 tag.

We left eating our cubes of fragrant Turkish delight more than satisfied, both with the food and the extremely reasonable PS49.90 bill, my first foray into Turkish cuisine definitely a positive experience.

And not a polystyrene tray or plastic fork in sight.

Foodie Facts Venue: Antep BBQ, 107 Market Street, Hoylake, Wirral, CH47 5AA Tel: 0151 632 2254 Website: Details of meal: Fabulous, authentic food in generous portions Service: Faultless and friendly Value: Excellent. PS49.90 for two Disabled access: Yes


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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 14, 2014
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