IT’s a gem of a building, central enough for a stroll to one of several pubs – or even to the seafront – afterwards, but commanding its own position on lovely leafy Hastings Place in Lytham.
I’d been there many times in its previous incarnations, but had given it a month to get over its teething troubles as the newly-badged Istanbul – a Turkish restaurant, all halloumi, moussaka, hummus and Turkish wines.
I’d heard tales of big weekend crowds queuing to try the place as soon as its doors opened, so I picked a Tuesday hoping a quieter night might give it a chance to offer us more solicitous service. Step forward all three of the evening’s waiting staff who, despite every table being full, were extremely keen to describe the numerous dishes.
The next table’s mains arrived to add an action scene to the dialogue; a seafood kebab of king prawns, scallops and halibut to die for and a lamb casserole good enough to sway my cousin’s decision on her choice.
It was a comic moment when our lux mezze for two was delivered, a kaleidoscope of food that trumped even theirs in one fell swoop. Fresh and fabulous but maybe a bit filling, we worried, as we delved in as our mains were, we were told, being prepared from scratch.
After much dithering, I’d opted for a saute Istanbul chicken – fillet strips with mustard and cream, peppers and onions. It came with rice and a side salad for £13.50 and was the best dish I’ve eaten in this building since it first turned from Conservative Club to eaterie.
My cousin’s casserole was slow-cooked, flavoursome and tender and, she declared, just spicy enough without being overpowering.
Our server took pains to explain the hand-held tablets, linked straight to the kitchen, the staff used to fast track orders in response to a few service speed issues of the first month of opening.
I was glad we’d allowed the settling down time; our experience was faultless and we would certainly go back.
I was dying to correct a few of the spelling errors on the menu (helium cheese being my particular favourite) but I thought that, really, it just further underlined the authenticity of the creators’ origins that was reflected in the food.
From the grill, kuzu sis kebab, adana kofte, casseroles with names I’d struggle to pronounce, sizzlers, seafood, vegetarian options.
Hmmm... maybe I’d just have to order that chicken all over again.
Lux Mezze for Two
Hummus, aubergine salad, spinach with yoghurt, tabuleh, feta cheese parcels, falafel, spicy Turkish sausage and stuffed vine leaves.
Saute Istanbul Chicken
Chicken strips, mustard and cream, peppers, onion, mixed mild spices.
Acili Et or Et Sote
Slow cooked lamb casserole (ask the server for a spiced chilli version if you prefer it).
GAZETTE RATING: 9/10