EatStanbul brings flavours of Turkey to Cape Town city bowl

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CAPE TOWN is a strange place. You can live within a kilometre of someone yet never see them or bump into them at the shops. You can be in the north, the south, or the city and remain entirely insular in those areas. 

Unlike Joburgers who are used to driving for half an hour through suburbs and on the freeway just to buy milk, Capetonians are loathe to cross the mountain without packing a change of clothes. Actually, that’s not really a joke; it can rain in Newlands and be blistering in Camps Bay.

Where I’m going with this is that since I moved from town to the southern suburbs three years ago, my lifestyle has changed quite dramatically. I do still go to the big city but at the same time I sometimes feel out of touch, and that I’ve been missing out. It’s different when you’re not there every day and you see all the new places (and the ones that close down).

That said, I have no excuse for not knowing about EatStanbul in Kloof Street, because it opened in 2018 when I was living within easy walking distance. I wish I had know about it sooner, because I would have eaten there, or got takeaways, on a regular basis.

For those who are not city bowl dwellers, the restaurant is on the corner opposite Asoka, diagonally opposite Checkers. How I missed it before is a mystery. But on we go. 

The food is Turkish, and EatStanbul attracts a significant middle eastern clientele, which I believe we can take as a good sign as to the quality and authenticity of the food. Of course, palates can do that as well – the quality anyway – but not having been to Turkey I take comfort from this nod of approval. 

The menu is extensive and if you can’t make up your mind how to begin, a mezze platter will take care of that. In our case, we had falafel, hummus with gorgeous soft squishy bread (not pita or flatbread), and icli kofta – pastry stuffed with minced beef, which I enjoyed very much. My friend, who was ravenous, ordered a coban salad with pomegranate syrup which was minty and fresh and we dipped into it throughout our meal. Çoban salatası is a Turkish shepherd’s salad comprising finely chopped tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and onions (featured image).

Full disclosure: we could have stopped there and called it a satisfactory day, but we had to sample some main courses as well (pictured above). I have to say, I am a fan of a meal with two starches. Rice and chips? Yes please, thank you very much. That’s what the beyti kebab comes with. But what about three starches, or even four? It’s a lamb kebab wrapped in a home baked bread (number three, a thin layer but still bread) with cheese, smothered in a tomato sauce and served with chips, rice and yoghurt. 

Our waiter, the enchantingly named Desire, brought a basket of warm pillowy bread to the table (starch number four), along with my friend’s main course of sac kavurma – a traditional Turkish dish of beef with seasonal vegetables which was super tasty with a mild heat. My dish won though, the more I think about it.

As we were preparing to leave – and by preparing I mean packing up leftovers to take home because who leaves delicious food behind? – Desire raised the question of dessert. “On no!” we cried in unison, having not considered that at all. We settled for glasses of strong cay – pronounced “chai” – a black tea which is traditionally served in a small, tulip-shaped glass, a design that comes from the days of the Ottoman Empire. There’s some information I can file away and bring out when I want to sound clever. Not only were my belly and mouth happy with the new flavours and dishes, but I learned something too.

For lighter meals, there are wraps and kofta burgers, and pide, a Turkish “pizza” on flatbread topped with various combinations of beef, mince and cheese. And at the other end of the scale, large groups can go all in with sharing platters for anything from four to upwards of 15 diners.

EatStanbul is Halaal, and neither serves nor allows alcohol. There is a wide range of soft drinks available, including Turkish ones, as well as mocktails. I love that they call non-alcoholic wine Gourmet Grape Juice.

For more information, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©

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