Review: Genuine welcome, Turkish music and authentic Mediterranean food at Alaturka Ipswich
- Credit: Su Anderson
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis checks out Alaturka in Ipswich
I’ve visited Alaturka, on Ipswich’s Great Colman Street, a few times in the past and have always been impressed.
It seems the wider public are too. There are glowing reviews of the family-run Turkish eatery on Tripadvisor, with the eatery gaining a Certificate of Excellence.
But I haven’t ventured back for a couple of years, so popped by to see if it still tickled my tastebuds.
There was a warm and genuine welcome for my friend Lisa and I, who’d rolled in out of the cold straight from the office.
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The restaurant is smart and simply decorated, with colourful artwork and lovely lantern-style lighting. Turkish music was tinkling in the background, and there was a hubbub of excitement upstairs as a corporate gathering got underway.
We really couldn’t decide what to pick from the menu. I absolutely love the flavours of Mediterranean food. And so we just sipped on the house Turkish wine (fruity and light) while we nibbled on the absolutely gorgeous warm homemade pide bread and succulent green and black olives in their citrusy marinade.
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Our kind waiter was only too happy to come over and recommend what he thought were the best dishes.
Being so undecided he thought it would be good if we tried out the mixed mezze platter which include a medley of hot and cold options. It sounded perfect.
Other options included pan-fried chicken liver with onions, parsley and sumac, prawns and mushrooms in garlic butter and a special sauce, grilled Turkish sausage and lahmacun – a kind of Turkish flatbread smeared with lightly spiced minced lamb.
The mezze looked really impressive when they came out, lovingly stewn across the plate by the chef who’d taken care to make sure it was visually appealing (after all, it can be hard to make dips and nibbles look sophisticated).
What can I tell you?
Every single little bit of the mezze made my mouth water.
There were garlic-scented, crunchy, light-as-a-feather falafels. Really packed with flavour and not insipid and boring as they can sometimes be in the wrong hands.
The hummus was zingy, creamy and well seasoned.
The garlic, cucumber and yoghurt dip refreshed the palate between bites, as did the zippy, sweetly sharp and herbal kisir.
I’ve never had calamari that’s been so tender and flavoursome.
And the feta pastries, laden with dill and spinach were crisp, moreish and lip-smackingly good.
Lisa gave a huge thumbs up to the barbecued chicken wings, whose meat fell off the bone.
And I could have eaten the cold aubergine, potato, onion and pepper mezze by the bowlful.
As we are sophisticated (sometimes) kind of girls we refrained from licking the plate clean!
Our main courses were similarly recommended by one of the waiting staff.
We chose the clay pot prawns and mixed grill.
Elsewhere on the menu are lots of charcoal grills, the sultan’s delight of chicken or lamb stew over creamy roasted aubergine puree, sea bass with herbs and vegetables, vegetarian moussaka and plenty more.
Our prawns came out sizzling hot, immersed in a sea of soft aubergine, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes bound in a delicate sauce flecked with parsley and fresh mint. The prawns couldn’t have been cooked any better and were just so juicy, bursting in the mouth against the yielding vegetables.
We ordered a tasty salad on the side too.
The mixed grill is a must for meat lovers. Each element was tender and rammed with flavour. The elegantly trimmed lamb chops oozed with natural juices and we couldn’t stop ourselves from nibbling on the bones.
Then there were pieces of char-grilled chicken, lamb and a succulent minced lamb kebab.
The accompanying salad, smothered in a thick pomegranate molasses dressing, was a great foil for the gutsy, meaty components of the plate.
And the buttery Turkish rice – what a treat?
You’d have thought after all that meat we wouldn’t be able to find a place for pudding.
Well, you’d be thinking wrong.
With a bit of fresh mint leaf tea in us we were ready to try the delights of the pudding menu, which is thankfully filled with authentic specialities that ranged from apple baked with apricots and honey, to semi-dried apricots stuffed with home made cream and nuts.
I picked baklava. Not very slimming I’ll admit, but who can resist layers of flaky filo and sticky pistachios and walnuts.
It was just so good. Sweet without being cloying and sickly, and the nuts weren’t too finely ground, giving it a bit of texture.
Lisa chose the traditional rice pudding. Now, I’d never order such a thing in a restaurant. Much too creamy for me. But I’ll admit, having sampled a spoonful from her clay pot, I was absolutely hooked.
It’s hard to describe the flavour. It was like the most subtle of Turkish delights, with lemon, perhaps orange blossom water and cinnamon notes coming through.
Definitely something I’ll order next time I’m here (because there will definitely be a next time) but I’m not sharing!
Alaturka has special mid week set menus at £14.50 for two courses and £17.50 for three. Plus there’s a menu for children too.
Look out for their belly dancing nights as well.
Alaturka, 9 Great Colman Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 2AA.
Call 01473 233448 or go to www.alaturkadining.co.uk