When we’re eating out, it’s usually either locally in Walthamstow or Central London. But friends in Epping suggested meeting half way at “Mezze Ocakbasi”:http://mezzeocakbasi.com/index.php in South Woodford, Essex we jumped at the chance to try a new venue. It was also ideal as we could all get their by bus.
On arrival at 6pm on a Friday, the bar and restaurant were quiet and although we’d booked, we were shown to a round table laid for six although the two extra place settings and chairs were quickly removed.
The menu is extensive. There is a long list of Turkish “starters”:http://mezzeocakbasi.com/index.php, both hot and cold, but we decided an easy option was the large hot mezze starter sharing plate at £16. The platter had grilled helloumi (sic) cheese, falafel, sigara boregi (stuffed filo pastry ‘cigars’), meat kofte, lahana sarmasi (cabbage roll stuffed with meat) and sucuk (slices of Turkish spicy sausage). It was ideal as there was four of everything and so none of that polite ‘no, you take the last piece’ or ‘let’s chop that piece into four’. It was also a good chance to try new things. Diane had never had the cheese before and asked how it tasted. My reply, ‘lovely, it’s salty and rubbery’ nearly put her off but she loved it as did I.
We all chose a main course from either the grill section or the steaks and specials. Roy’s slow braised lamb with chickpeas cooked with celery, onion, carrot, green beans and aubergine was so tender it could be cut with a fork.
Diane’s five lamb chops were a hefty portion, perfectly cooked to taste and devoured quickly by being gnawed off the bone.
John had the special chicken – a diced breast cooked with wild mushroom, green and red peppers, onion, mustard and tarragon and cooked in creamy garlic sauce. To me, it looked the least appetizing, but as there was a clean plate, it was obviously good.
I chose chicken beyti – spicy minced chicken fillet mixed with herbs and garlic formed into two long sausages. As soon as I saw the huge dish, I knew it would defeat me and so left one ‘sausage’ on the side of my plate intending to ask for a doggy bag but as soon as the waiter saw my plate, he offered a take-away which I thought was excellent. Half of the sausage went into a chicken ceasar salad the following lunchtime and the rest made a sandwich the day after that. You can’t argue that wasn’t value for money!
All the dishes were priced on average £10 and were served with an individual portion of rice (a reasonable size) with a salad bowl being placed in the middle of the table to share.
The house white wine was well priced at £15.95 and more than acceptable.
We’d been too busy chatting to notice how quickly the restaurant was filling up but at 8.10pm, we were very politely asked if we’d vacate our table (as I have not done the booking, I’d not realised they had a two-hour policy). As soon as we’d got up the table was being set again which wasn’t surprising as when we left through the bar, it was absolutely heaving.
A great find, and one to return especially at lunchtime when there is a great value special lunch menu.