MEAL REVIEW: Ephesus Turkish Restaurant, Morpeth

Mixed hot platter at Ephesus, Morpeth
Mixed hot platter at Ephesus, Morpeth

If nothing else, I would like to think that I am a man of my word and regular readers of this column may have been wondering when I was going to return to the scene of the Gazette team’s first – and, to date, last – walk-out.

For those new to the story, in February this year, I went to eat at the latest addition to Morpeth’s culinary scene, but ended up in The Electrical Wizard, the JD Wetherspoon pub.

Guvec lamb

Guvec lamb

Here’s what I said back then: ‘Northumberland’s first authentic Turkish restaurant was the advert’s claim and it sounded an ideal place to visit while our friends were up for the weekend.

‘However, the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the name at the top of the page does not sound very Turkish and indeed our efforts to eat at Ephesus, on Morpeth’s Bridge Street, on its second night were dashed by what sadly must be described as incompetence.

‘I was well aware that there may be teething issues on a new restaurant’s first weekend in business, but the menu, available to view on the venue’s website, sounded too good to miss.

‘An extreme case of laziness perhaps – a drive down the A1 rather than a flight across Europe to the gateway to Asia to get a true taste of Turkey.

Iskender lamb

Iskender lamb

‘We arrived just after 7pm and were shown to our table after a short wait, but that was the only short wait of the night.

‘We did get some drinks by about 7.30pm, but having ordered our food at 7.45pm, we waited until 9pm with no sign of anything arriving before deciding to call it a day due to the need to get something to eat and returning home to Alnwick.

‘We weren’t the only ones to leave without eating and very few dishes seemed to be making it to the tables upstairs where we were sat – perhaps ‘authentic’ meant flown in from Istanbul.

‘The manager was extremely apologetic as we left and I can only hope that some lessons have been learned and that they can iron out the issues.

Bread and olives

Bread and olives

‘I haven’t written Ephesus off for good and, after a few months for them to settle in, I want to give it another go because the extensive menu really did sound very appetising’.

Well, earlier this week – a cold, murky November night – I did give it another go and I’m glad I did, because the appetising menu translated into a tasty Turkish treat.

The menu is also extensive with a range of cold and hot mezze to start, followed by a choice of more than 10 dishes, a similar number of barbecue dishes – cooked over wood charcoals in the traditional Turkish way – and a smaller selection of fish, salad and vegetarian dishes.

In order to taste as wide a range of Turkish food as possible, not being an expert outside kebabs, we opted for the mixed hot platter to start.

The bill, which came in a box with Turkish Delight

The bill, which came in a box with Turkish Delight

Coming in at £9.50 for one or £12.50 for two, which features sucuk, falafel, peynirli borek, hellim and mini kofta.

Falafel. a fried patty of chick peas, which was served on houmous, and the mini kofta, or lamb meatballs, I have had before, the former being pleasingly crunchy on the outside and the latter tender and in a delicately-spiced tomato sauce.

The others were new to me and I enjoyed all three, particularly the sucuk, a spicy garlic sausage. Hellim is a grilled Cypriot cheese while peynirli borek is deep-fried filo pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley.

This was prefaced by fresh, warm bread served with olives and soft cheese, which was a very nice way to start the meal.

For the main course, we both opted for lamb dishes, one guvec and one iskender.

Across the table was the guvec, named for the Turkish earthenware pot which housed the casserole-style dish, featuring diced lamb with mushroom, spinach, aubergines, courgettes, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, garlic and herbs in a rich sauce.

Efes beer

Efes beer

It went down very well, the Turkish version of a winter warmer, but be warned, it was extremely hot and still steaming by the time we had both finished eating.

My iskender is named after its inventor, İskender Efendi, who lived in Bursa in the late 19th century.

The meat was served on a bed of bread and covered with a gently-spiced tomato sauce, which coated the lamb and was soaked up by the bread. The dish was served with butter and natural yoghurt.

WARM WELCOME AND GOOD SERVICE

Clearly, the first time I tried to eat at Ephesus, the service was not great as we didn’t get any food, but this week it was very good. We were welcomed warmly and throughout the night the service was prompt, professional and courteous.

We ate on a chilly, foggy Tuesday night and were the only ones there initially. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was comfortable and relaxed.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

Starters (cold and hot mezze)

Babganush (v).......£3.40

Broad beans (v).......£3.40

Humus (v).......£2.90

Soup of the day.......£3.40

Turkish pizza.......£3.90

Kalamari.......£3.90

Barbecue

Chicken shish.......£8.50

Mixed grill.......£12.90

Fish

Levrek (sea bass).......£12.90

Prawns guveg.......£11.50

Mains

Ali Nazik chicken.......£8.90

Moussaka (veggie option too for 50p cheaper).......£8.90

Sac kavurma.......£10.50

Desserts

Baklava.......£3.50

Ice cream.......£3.50

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food.......8

Presentation.......9

Choice.......9

Vegetarian choice.......7

Atmosphere.......8

Use of local food (no mention).......0

Service.......9

Disabled access.......8

Toilet for disabled.......No (plus regular toilets are upstairs)

Overall rating.......8½

Verdict: If anyone was put off by my first review, I would definitely recommend giving it a go now.

Contact: 01670 946536 or www.ephesusmorpeth.co.uk

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed The Botanist, Monument Mall, Newcastle, and before that was The Highlander, at Belsay. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.

Ephesus, Morpeth

Ephesus, Morpeth