We were highly excited this month to hear of “Antalya”, a new restaurant situated in the Old Georgians sports club. Antalya is a Mediterranean port resort in south western Turkey, the very thought of which conjures up the smell of the sea. I imagine beautifully fried succulent squid fresh
from the ocean accompanied by a whole range of Turkish summer vegetables and salads.
But back to reality. This is the watering hole of the thirsty sports people – loads of bench tables where the drinkers and families sit – with a dining section next to it of pleasingly comfortable no-nonsense wooden tables and chairs. We were greeted and seated and attended to with courteous care.
The menu is short and sweet. Two starters – peri-peri chicken livers or a mixed meze of olives, humus, spinach and feta börek (spanakopitas), cacik (tatziki) and rye bread. As we have had our fill of mediocre chicken livers recently, we both went for the meze. And not bad it was too. The olives were nicely marinated, tatziki is – well hard to mess up, the börek were delightfully light if slightly under-seasoned, and the humus was delicious even if it didn’t taste quite like any humus I have had before. But we were well satisfied with our starter which, accompanied by a bottle of Nedeburg Baronne at $13 (surely the lowest mark up we have come across) gave us opportunity to pour over the mains selection of which there was – hang on – one item!
Ironically for a restaurant named after a Turkish town, the main dish is pork ribs. Being partial to a bit of irony, that is what I ordered. There is also a selection of burgers, but somehow we both felt that “going out for dinner” and “going out for a burger” are two different things. I can see why the menu is structured in this way. Members of the sports club are there for the sports facilities and a burger is a good way to soak up the post-game beer. Or to feed the children. So my partner went for the “special” which was a steak on a bed of spinach with fondant potatoes. At this point another waiter took over our service and offered us dessert before we had received our mains which was a bit disconcerting but quickly rectified.
The mains arrived and were both extremely brown in appearance. There was spinach under the steak – but not much. That was a shame as it was very tasty – lightly cooked and with a hint of chilli. The next disappointment was that the steak was not very warm and was half fat. Nevertheless it tasted extremely good. It had a good sauce and was beautifully seasoned and spiced. The fondant potatoes were a bit soggy, but the taste of the meat was such that it didn’t really matter. My sticky ribs were juicy and good, with well cooked chips, although I wasn’t keen on the spicy pickled cabbage which had a slightly soapy taste.
We had huge cups of good coffee and a cream brulee which passed the crack-the-top test.
All in all it was a pleasing experience. It is not really the place for an intimate dinner for two, but would be great for a crowd or the whole family. It caters to its clientele which is sporty, rowdy, and hungry. The food is good – though vegetarians would struggle, as after gobbling up the excellent meze there is nothing else to choose from. I would have liked to have seen a salad on offer.
These people know how to cook and I should add that the night we were there, there was a large private gathering which was also being fully catered. A welcome addition to the restaurant scene.