There’s no shortage of Turkish restaurants on Islington’s Upper Street. It’s just too bad that most of them serve as mere pit stops for the crowds who come to my ‘hood on weekends to get pissed. Imagine my excitement when I saw this glowing November 2010 review in TimeOut for Antepliler. It’s always a good thing when a mid-range, delicious restaurant opens in your neighborhood, yes?
Happily, the service and decor at Antepliler lived up to expectations. And the food was generally good, though based on my one meal there, I wouldn’t say Antepliler is a destination restaurant. It’s more of a “great choice if you’re already in Islington” kind of place.
Jon and I loved the breads, which arrived soon after we sat down. Steaming hot and flavorsome, especially with the accompanying free chutneys and the cacik (£4.50), which was not free but when is strained cucumber with garlic and mint not a good plan?
Patlican Soslu, a fried aubergine with tomato tapenade, was too sugary. Too bad as I love fried aubergine and was looking forward to this cold starter.
Borek were delicious. Zippy feta cheese and crisp, greaseless filo pastry, all fried. I’m afraid this dish isn’t going to keep away the crowds planning to get pissed on Upper Street, but its greatness as a bar snack cannot be ignored.
Listed under the category “Signiture Gaziantep Food” on the menu, the diced lamb in Jon’s Ali Nazik was a bit dry. We’d thought the lamb would be cooked as a large piece first and then diced, but it seems the lamb was diced and then cooked. Hence the dryness. The smoky eggplant puree helped give moisture to the dish, of course, but still, this is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes?
My Simit Kebab, kofte to you and me, was exactly what I like in a kofte. The cracked wheat and abundant herbs in the minced lamb added a crunchy, earthy texture and flavor to the minced lamb. The accompanying rice and salad were fine, but it was the generous portion of juicy kofte that was the star attraction.
With a beer each, our tab for two totaled £50. Service was fast and friendly, and the interior was cheery and buzzing. A very welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Antepliler Restaurant, 139 Upper St, N1 1QP, 0207 226 5441; closest Tube station: Highbury & Islington (10-minute walk) or Angel (15-minute walk)
To read about other restaurants in Islington, click here.