Turkish venue Oz Restaurant is very much proof that you shouldn’t take things at face value. The building’s previous incarnation was as a chip shop, and it remains nestled amongst burger and kebab shops on the Triangle. With a very unassuming exterior, it’s not often that you walk past and see the place heaving with customers…if you even notice it at all. Head in for a meal, however, and I can (almost!) guarantee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised…
‘Our intention here is to help the uninitiated to enjoy Turkish food’, proclaims owner Ahmet Ozdemir on the website of the family business. They also make a point, on their homepage, of the fact that they place an emphasis on organic ingredients, and try to use local produce where possible.
Whenever I talk about Turkish food with friends who are ‘uninitiated’, to borrow a word from the Oz website, they tend to associate it with one thing: kebabs. However, if you’re a fan of lamb, chicken, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, lemon, oregano…well, you can’t go wrong with Turkish food, really! And while kebabs do make up part of the menu at Oz, once you’ve tried a proper Turkish kebab you’ll realise that the stuff they serve at some of the restaurant’s neighbouring fast food venues just doesn’t compare. The ‘Grills’ section of the Oz menu features eight different options, of which I would definitely recommend the Iskender: a variety of grilled meats served on warmed pitta bread and served with a tomato sauce and yoghurt – a standard accompaniment to Turkish main courses.
On our last visit, however, we decided to go for one of Oz’s set meals. The restaurant offers two set menus: the Cicek menu (£14.95 per head) and the Tam menu (£19.45 per head), with both offering options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
The Cicek menu (the meat version, naturally) was what we eventually decided on. Along with a basket of wonderfully soft Turkish bread, we received a bowl of rice each to accompany our main plate, featuring an assortment of Turkish specialities, namely…
Humus – chickpea dip
Tabule – cracked wheat salad with herbs, tomatoes and onions
Kisir – bulghur wheat salad with mixed nuts, tomato paste and parsley
Imam Bayildi – roasted aubergine with tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs
Cacik – tzatziki, in essence – yoghurt dip with cucumber and fresh mint
Börek – feta cheese and spinach-filled filo pastry
Felafel – spiced, mashed chickpeas formed into balls and deep fried
Kalamar – battered and fried squid rings
Icli Kofte – fried balls of minced lamb, pine nuts and herbs
Kofte – lamb meatballs
Grilled Hellim – known as halloumi in Greek – a traditional Cypriot cheese
Sucuk Izgara – slices of grilled spicy garlic sausage
A very generous plate of food, as you can see from the above picture! Most people, even if they haven’t had much exposure to Turkish food, will be familiar with humus and kalamar at least, but the Cicek menu is a great introduction to some other popular dishes such the salty-yet-moreish hellim, slightly spicy cumin and garlic flavoured sucuk izgara and the icli kofte which I’m addicted to: basically minced meat in a shell made from more meat and bulghur wheat and deep fried (very similar to the Lebanese “kibbeh”, of which they sell a delicious version at Cedars Express on Park Row).
The one disappointment is that there are only two Turkish wines on the list – one red, one white (£3.95 per glass or £15.95 per bottle) – but you’ll also find the old favourite Turkish Efes (£3.25) on the list of beers and raki (£2.95) on the spirits list. And as for dessert…well, we’ll just have to go back another time. I’ve never left the restaurant with enough space for pudding! The portions are generous, the prices are reasonable, and it’s easy to get a table at the last minute. Perfect.
Oz Turkish Restaurant
Address: 4 Triangle South, Bristol BS8 1EY
Telephone: 0117 927 3097