Review of The Turkish Kitchen as Durham Restaurant Week returns with bargain deals

Durham’s dining scene is diversifying at a great pace of late, with a wave of shiny new restaurants rubbing shoulders with its ancient buildings.

It means diners can take their tastebuds on a trot around the globe from the melting pot of flavours of Mexico and the Caribbean to the heady spices of Asia, without leaving the banks of the Wear.

Among those flying the flag for Middle Eastern cuisine is The Turkish Kitchen which opened its doors in the historic Saddler Street in 2020, beneath Durham institution Fabio’s.

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I’ve passed the warm glow of this prime site many times, but this was my first time inside – and it’s an impressive transformation.

Turkish Kitchen, Durham City Centre

The period coving of the building blends with mosaic flooring, textured wallpaper, statement-piece ambient lighting of red swirls, fret work and art works depicting Istanbul’s skyline to great effect. It’s authentic, stylish and has a real feeling of opulence about it.

It’s a large site with plenty of covers, making it ideal for both large groups and courting couples.

We were seated in one of the secluded booths overlooking the stylish, and incredibly well-stocked bar (make sure to try the Turkish wines) where we could soak up the atmosphere on a busy, bustling Friday night.

Much like the famous mosaics of Turkey, its cuisine is a rich, varied and colourful affair and the Turkish owners of this restaurant have done a great job of showcasing the foods of their homeland in the menu with a broad range of grill, fish, salads, vegan and vegetarian and specials options.

Turkish Kitchen in Saddler Street, Durham

You can also pick up a bargain at lunch times, from Sundays to Fridays 12pm to 4pm when you can tuck into one course for £10.95 or two for £14.95.

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With so much uhhming and ahhing over all the choices, we went with the sharing meze to start which is a great way of sampling a wide range of dishes.

Service from our server, Alex, was really swift and knowledgeable and he chatted us through our choices, their rich aroma filling the air around us.

It’s great value at £24.95 for five hot and five cold starters, with more than enough for two people to pick their way through. So much so, we had to have our left overs boxed up or we’d never have been able to shoehorn in mains – we’re told they have to do that a lot due to their generous portion sizes.

The restaurant opened in 2020 after transforming the prime site
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The Turkish staples are all there, such as a really satisfyingly chunky hummus; crunchy falafel that was packed with delicate flavour; halloumi with its distinctive squeaky chew; a refreshing cacik and more with a fluffy Turkish flatbread to mop it all up.

There was also some of the less obvious Turkish options, such as a really moreish fried aubergine; a lightly-spiced Turkish garlic beef sausage which we couldn’t get enough of; perfectly flaky filo pastry feta parcels and Mucver, a pan-fried courgette and feta fritter that I’ll definitely be ordering again. It’s the kind of hearty, wholesome food that really brings people together.

For mains, I stuck with the classics and had the chicken shish (£15.95), which was beautifully tender with that satisfying smokiness you can only get from a restaurant shish, served with a mound of light, non-greasy rice and salad.

We were really satisfied, but Alex convinced us to try his dad’s baklava with some Turkish tea to round off the meal in true Turkish style – and I’m glad we did.

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Sharing meze to start

The sweet treat was just the right balance of sweet, rich, light and flaky and was complemented perfectly by the homely tea. A true Turkish delight without the air miles.

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Durham Restaurant Week

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The Turkish Kitchen is one of many restaurants taking part in the return of Durham Restaurant Week.

Held from Saturday, January 28 to Saturday, February, 4, 2023, it’s a great way to visit some of your favourites, or discover new ones, at a bargain price.

Organised by Durham BID, participating restaurants, bars and cafes have put together set £10, £15, £20 and £25 menus to give people the chance to try their dishes at a lower price point, with venues such as The Boat Club & Tomahawk Steakhouse; Turtle Bay, The Curious Mr Fox, Old Toms Gin Bar, Tealicious Tea Rooms, Zapatista, Tortilla, Gusto, Tapas Factory, Collage Restaurant at the Radisson and more signed up to the scheme so far.

The stylish bar area
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All visitors need to do to take advantage of the offers is to pre-book the restaurant by calling or choose from the Restaurant Week Menus when visiting venues, between January 28 and February 4.

To find out more on which venues are participating, and a run down of the offers visit: www.lifeindurham.co.uk/restaurant-week/

Turkish tea, coffee and baklava for dessert
There's great detail in the decor