Anatolia, Gateshead

For a while I’ve bemoaned the lack of neighbourhood restaurants in my area. They’ve been popping up in places like Sandyford and Heaton – Harissa Kitchen rather than Dixy Chicken – while where we live in Gateshead there’s a plethora of kebab shops and chippies on our doorstep instead. A short car journey away (or walk, if I’m feeling so inclined) there’s Staiths Cafe or 1964, but if you fancy a change of scene it usually requires a trip over to the other side of the Tyne.

Imagine my surprise at discovering a Turkish restaurant had opened on Coatsworth Road while walking to the Post Office. Not the most glamorous of locations, it has to be said, with neighbouring units flogging second hand washing machines. I suspended judgement as I peered in, trying to catch a glimpse of their takeaway menu. The interior seemed on par with the likes of Fez Food and Red Mezze, and there were a couple of diners in too. Anatolia Turkish Grill House, as it is named, offer a two course lunch between 12 – 5pm at under a tenner.

I had a chat with a friendly chap who said they could make me a fresh flatbread without dairy if I gave them advance notice. Apparently a few hours was enough time for them to sort this out so I booked to take the Teen for his tea that very evening.

Not knowing how generous/stingy the portions would be, and also how much of an appetite the Teen has, we set about ordering a mixture of hot and cold Mezze once we arrived. I couldn’t ignore the draw of falafel, while the Teen wanted to try the Hellim (Halloumi). We also chose Hummus and flatbread –  he got the non-vegan version – and I selected Sakshuka. There were main courses requested by us, but when the starters arrived we realised our huge mistake. There was enough food to feed an army, never mind our small band of gluttons!

Thankfully Dinky was helpful in polishing off the fresh Falafel while the Teen chose to steal my Hummus when he’d eaten all of his and had flatbread left over. Knowing that my Vegetarian Special main course – which was being made without cheese on request – and the Teen’s chicken we’re still ahead of us was a worry. I have a big problem with food waste and have started to economise so was therefore pleased we were given the option to take home a ‘doggy bag’. There was easily enough to feed another person with the leftovers.

The mains arrived quickly in the form of Iskender with Tavuk for the Teen. The chunks of chargrilled chicken on a flatbread were served with a generous dollop of yoghurt. After eating half he finally admitted defeat.

I didn’t fare much better myself with the aubergine, courgette and mushroom parcel billed as the Vegetarian Special. This was similar to a Vegetable Lasagne without the pasta. I felt so disappointed I could only manage a small amount as it may have appeared we didn’t like the food! Again, this was boxed up for us to take home too. My only complaint was the dusting of dried herbs over the dish. I felt they didn’t really add much to the flavor.

Chatting afterwards I discovered the owners are the same folk behind Acropolis, who have recently been given the accolade of the best street food in the North East by Living North. You may have tried out their grub at the markets of Tynemouth or the Quayside. It seems a lot of thought has been put into ensuring Anatolia serves up authentic dishes and apparently there are only a couple of items that are bought in, the rest – like my vegan flatbread – are made by them. It also means diners like myself can be accommodated with a little bit of warning. Our total was just over £45, but we clearly ordered far too much food for just the two of us judging by the takeaway containers we were handed upon leaving.

One thing that didn’t escape my notice was the fact that two of Anatolia’s lunchtime patrons were still there when I went back later in the day. Clearly the friendly atmosphere and food on offer here were enough to keep these ladies enthralled for well over three hours. That must have been quite the natter, although judging by the portions we were served up they may have also ordered too much scran! Hurrah we have somewhere to pop into locally for an impromptu relaxed evening meal.

Thanks for reading,

Pip x

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