Absolutely stuffed from our dinner at Cona, we fell into a blissful food coma until the hotel reception called to ask if we were ready to check out. Uh oh. Rushing around the room and scrambling for any form of clothing, we quickly packed our bags, checked out, and jumped in the car all in record time – phew!
From research, I realised that firstly, nothing is open in Manchester on a Sunday, and secondly, there was a serious lack of exciting halal restaurants that were worth checking out. Anyways, I read about Manchester’s oldest Turkish restaurant, Cafe Istanbul, and thought why not. I don’t usually have much Turkish at home so it good to try something new for once.
Cafe Istanbul offer a Sunday lunch menu where you get a starter and main for £10. The starter includes a plate of mixed mezze items, and you choose a main from their available options. BW and I decided to share both.
I have to say, the plate did look a little underwhelming. The hummus was a little heavy on the tahini, the tabbouleh was decent with plenty of zing, the wing was unimpressive, the sujuk needed some spices, the borek was light and cheesy, the dolma was not memorable, and taramasalata (which looked like strawberry soft serve – yum!) did not go overboard on the fishiness for once. To cut it short, the plate was average at best.
Well, you can never go wrong with fried cheese! Thick slices of halloumi had been covered in batter and fried till each were golden. The exterior was a little greasy but the cheese had a nice salty squidge.
A more refined version of the greasy, take-away donner kebab we are familiar with. A generous amount of lamb slices arrived to the table with a dome of sumac topped rice and salad on the side. You could taste the quality of the spit roasted lamb; it had a good smokiness, and the meat was wonderfully tender. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish!
The total bill amounted to £20.80 so £10.40 each, excluding service. I realise we did not order loads and could have tried more items to really get a feel of the restaurant, but asides from the sassy waitress, the food wasn’t all that bad. It was not the best Turkish, but being Manchester’s oldest Turkish restaurant, there is a reason why these guys are still around!
If you know of any good halal restaurants you could recommend for the next time I’m in Manchester, do let me know please!