Predicting good times for venue

Istanbul restaurant in Lytham
Istanbul restaurant in Lytham

Iain Lynn eats out at the new Turkish restaurant in Lytham

I’ve never been to Turkey but find the juxtaposition between traditional Eastern culture and modern western life 
intriguing.

So when I learned that a new Turkish restaurant was opening in Lytham, I decided to take my partner along to sample the menu.

Istanbul, In Hastings Place (Or the more exotic-sounding “Hasing Palace” as the receipt later stated) opened on May22 with a lavish affair and free cocktails. We visited a few days later to try a meal from the extensive menu.

Inside the Istanbul Restaurant, little had changed since the previous establishment which had occupied the site, other than a gentle Turkish makeover.

However, the menu was a more authentic change with a variety of hot and cold meze to choose as starters or as tapas for a main course, a grill section as well as casseroles, fish and vegetarian options.

I began wiith a Cibiz Kofte which were lamb meat balls, delicately spiced, served on a bed of salad for £5.50. The Kofte were tasty, but maybe could have been served slightly warmer, however they were quickly devoured with a portion of Turkish bread. My dining partner chose Humus Kavurma which was a small portion of casseroled lamb served on top of a large bowl of humus. Again, the lamb was delicately flavoured and the humus smooth and delicious. A great start to the meal.

Lytham’s Istanbul restaurant is the third in a chain owned by Hasan Ozkanca who also has restaurants in Didsbury and Prestwich. The aim is to bring authentic Turkish dining to the north west and Ozkanca originates from Turkey but moved to England 30 years ago bringing his cuisine with him.

And his menus certainly seem to be hitting the right note as diners around us hungrily tucked in to a variety of meats, meze and breads.

Our main courses arrived served with rice and salad, although my girlfriend’s selection of Tavuk Sis is normally served with bulgar instead – she asked if she could swap the cous-cous like grains for rice when ordering, a request which was easily accommodated. The main course consisted of marinated chicken cubes cooked on a skewer with peppers and onions. The chicken was juicy and the course served with two dips – Ezeme which was spicy and filled with chillis and haleb sauce which was milder and tomato based. The dish was not overly filling, ideal for someone with their eye on desert and cost £13.50.

I chose Yahni, also for £13.50, which was baked lamb in paprika marinade and served in a red wine reduction. The lamb was tender and succulent and prepared to perfection. I accompanied my casserole with a very un-Turkish pint of Peroni, which cost £4.50 and my girlfriend chose a Corona for £3.50.

As I had chosen an un-traditional drink, I decided to rectify matters with a cup of Turkish coffee. After one sip, I realised I’d probably never tasted such a strong flavoured coffee, or drank as much caffeine in one tiny cup before. The waiter hinted I may never sleep again by miming crazy swirling eyes. My girlfriend found this hilarious and the diners were intrigued by the tiny cup of muddy-coloured coffee and its effect on me.

When we established I was suitably light-headed, I was treated to some faux-fortune telling.

The waiter turned the cup upside-down, I swivelled it around once and then he declared he could see my future from the coffee grounds deposited on the China. There was a pause, and he asserted, much to my girlfiend’s displeasure that the fortune didn’t feature her receiving a massive diamond ring. Instead he confidently announced that she would be treating me to dinner. She indicated quite firmly at that point that he was rubbish at fortune telling because that definitely wasn’t going to happen!

Anyway, after that short interlude, deserts appeared.

I had chosen a home-made vanilla cheesecake which had a light, creamy texture and was served with a homemade blueberry compote for £4.50.

My girlfriend decided to stay traditional and chose a Baklava for £4, which she had no difficulty polishing off.

The three-course meal for two came in at £56.75 and we will return.

I wonder if the waiter saw that outcome in the grounds of my coffee too?

26 Hastings Place, Lytham St Annes, 01253 795949 www.istanbul-lytham.co.uk