Greetings and salutations to my readers for this week’s column. Today we’ll be looking at a Turkish restaurant called “Selale” - which means waterfall. The restaurant is located in Haringey, North London and the area is known to be the food hub for everything Turkish, be it your Turkish delight, baklavas, kebabs or even a place to buy Turkish style curtains and gold. The restaurant is an hour away from Imperial via bus and train but if you’re ever in north london, it’s typically roughly no more than a 30 min bus ride to the restaurant.
The restaurant’s interior is very chic and colourful with a modern and clean look to it, with a subtle Turkish accent. The inside was well lit, making it ideal for taking photos and the exterior is well designed with massively wide windows showing you the outside when you eat. Hospitality was also quick and efficient given how busy it was on the day which was very much appreciated. In Turkish restaurants, they always provide salad, bread and typically a yoghurt-y sauce for “free of charge”. I write free of charge in quotation marks because it’s not entirely free, as it is something actually included in the service charge, however in most restaurants nothing comes along with the service charge and in Turkish restaurants they do, which is better than nothing
To start us off we ordered a combination of hot and cold Mezes (£16.90), Meze meaning side dishes in Turkish. This included: Hummus, Kisir (couscous), Sarma (stuffed grape leaves), Shakshuka, Calamari, Halloumi, Sigara Böreği (stuffed and fried filo pastry) and Sucuk (Turkish style spicy and fermented sausage). All the Mezes we ordered were tasty and unique in flavour and texture. Our favourite out of the bunch was the Sigara Borek which was served fresh with stuffed feta cheese with finely chopped parsley. It was very tasty and soft on the inside and the outer pastry was crispy enough to want to order more. The crispy-ness gives you a good crunch when you bite into it without falling apart. Despite the strange combination, the sigara borek surprisingly worked really well with the tatar sauce which was served with the Mezes. Although not bad, we found our least favourite Meze to be the Shakshuka; for this dish the flavours just did not hit the right spot on our taste buds, and we didn’t like the fact that it was served cold.
For the mains, let’s start off with the Manti(£14.90) which is Turkish style mini dumplings. Manti is typically stuffed with minced lamb or beef and served hot, with a generous drizzle of garlic yoghurt and spicy butter sauce to give the overall look of the dish a wonderful shine. From the get go, the dish looked promising but I did expect it to taste more exciting. The butter sauce felt like it was just there to provide colour with not much spice. However, the manti tasted pretty good with no specific complaints. The garlic yoghurt went well with the manti and I was satisfied with my meal. Along with the manti, I ordered Ayran(£2.90), which is a Turkish yoghurt drink. Unfortunately, the Ayran was just not doing it for me. Ayran is made to be salty, however Selale’s wasn’t salty at all. I presume it’s to cater towards different customers, but unfortunately it was unsatisfactory.
Moving on to our second main we ordered Iskender(£18.90), which is a combination sliced lamb doner kebab and pita bread (sometimes croutons) topped with a hot tomato sauce and sizzling sheep buttermilk on top. Along with this extravaganza you get a side of yogurt, bringing the meal together. The meat in the Iskender was well cooked and juicy, and the umami provided by the tomato sauce was delicious. My only qualm is that I typically like my bread a bit crispier and not very soggy. Overall the dish was very filling, but nothing stood out to me, just like the manti.
Finally for the dessert, we got complimentary Turkish tea and baklava. We also ordered a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake(£5.90). One thing I can appreciate is that the teas and baklavas are given for free. The baklava served wasn’t the ‘typical’ baklava you might know of, but it does come in various shapes and sizes.To add to this point, our baklava had walnuts instead of the traditional pistachio filling. The Ferrero Rocher cheesecake was the most anticipated, but without any sugar-coating, it wasn’t good at all. The cheesecake tasted way too dense and significantly lacked the flavour of Ferrero Rocher. Due to the denseness, the aftertaste wasn’t very good as well. Ultimately, we believe they failed to make the dessert airy which is what a good cheesecake should be.
In conclusion, the food was solid and there’s not much to complain about, but there was also nothing special behind it. Given that the price tag was comparable to more high-end restaurants, I expected something more than just standard. It could be that the dishes we got weren’t their specialty, as there are many dishes to choose from. Regardless, if it isn’t anything special they shouldn’t charge so much for it.