I love a good Turkish restaurant…so when visiting family in Kent recently I wasn’t going to complain when a trip to Sunshine in Hythe was suggested. I was the only one of our group of four not to have visited before, but the other three had raved about a previous visit so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about!
Located on Hythe’s High Street, Sunshine bills itself as a Turkish restaurant, BBQ, wine and cocktail bar – and the owners have certainly worked hard to give it a great look and feel. The wood-clad exterior is inviting, and it’s a place that’s beautifully decorated inside. From the glass bottles that make up the front of the bar to the eclectic mix of lighting, from the seating chosen with both comfort and style in mind to quirky touches like a red phone box and a Paddington Station wall clock, Sunshine is a place that feels fun, stylish and relaxed.
We were there for the three-course lunch special, priced at £13.95 Monday to Friday and £17.95 on Saturdays. This offer runs from 12pm to 4pm and there’s a huge choice of starters and mains, as you can see from the image below.
As well as your three courses, you’re presented with a wooden crate of Turkish bread at the start of your meal: warm, pillowy bread sprinkled with spices and chargrilled for added flavour. It was so good that we paid £3.70 for a second helping once this lot had been demolished.
At the request of the five-year-old who I was sharing my meal with, I began with a starter of whitebait. Crisp and hot, they didn’t need either the lemon or the tartare sauce that they came with as they were plump, juicy and full of flavour – a great start.
The izgara kofte – lamb meatballs – were plump, juicy and beautifully seasoned with handfuls of parsley and a variety of spices, and had that smokey chargrilled flavour, too. As you’d expect from Turkish rice, the mound of rice that was served with them was good and buttery, although I wasn’t a massive fan of the fact that it included vegetables, which gave it the feel of something out of a packet. The simple salad was jazzed up by the addition of pomegranate seeds, and the creamy dip – like the lemon with the starter – wasn’t really needed. We enjoyed it with the rest of the bread instead.
For dessert, it was a choice between rice pudding, ice cream and a dessert called kemal pasha which originates from northwestern Turkey. With almost a rum baba-like consistency, these little balls are made with a dough that includes semolina, flour, eggs and unsalted Turkish white cheese which is either baked or fried before being simmered in a sugar syrup and served topped with either cream or ice cream.
The portion may look small, but this is a dessert that is incredibly rich and sweet – two of these was absolutely enough. The slightly coarse texture may not appeal to some, but they were packed full of flavour and definitely satisfied the craving for something sweet at the end of the meal.
£13.95 for three courses from the set lunch menu at Sunshine in Hythe definitely felt like a bargain. While it seemed, from the photos in the main menu, that our portion sizes were smaller than if ordered a la carte, I’d say this is to be expected from a set lunch menu at that price. The service was great throughout (our lovely heavily pregnant server always had a smile on her face!) and the individually wrapped chunks of pistachio Turkish delight that were presented with our bill were a nice touch. With so much more on offer on the main menu – and with a setup that suggests it has a more bar-like atmosphere at night – I’d definitely be keen to go back for an a la carte meal one evening to see what the place is like.