Review: Istanbul Meze, Roundhay, Leeds

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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There’s a little Mediterranean restaurant on Street Lane, goes by the name of...

Actually, by the time this review is published it might change its name again, so often has it switched monikers in the last few years!

I popped in to what I had previously known as Turkish grill ‘Viyan’ for an early bird dinner on a weekday and was greeted with a brand new frontage and name. The eatery now goes by the name of Istanbul Meze, but the concept and menu is pretty much the same.

The restaurant sits in a part of Roundhay surrounded by a variety of bars and restaurants so it has plenty of competition. It was already pretty lively, with a large table of about 10 people creating a buzz.

We were presented with a menu full of Mediterranean style grill options, stews and a large selection of hot and cold mezze. Mezze is the Middle Eastern version of Spanish tapas, pick and mix mini dishes.

We thought about trying a selection of mezze but instead plumped - on the recommendation of our waiter - for the special all day offer of two courses for £13.50, 
which seemed extremely reasonable.

However, unfortunately, we quickly wished we hadn’t.

My starter of falafel was unimpressive. The bland morsels looked more like scraps than the flavour-packed, herby, spherical chick-pea patties I was expecting. The falafel came with a spicy tomato salsa and a tangy dill and yoghurt dip, which were lovely accompaniments and actually the best thing on the plate.

My dining partner’s Kalamar (deep fried crispy squid rings) were unpleasant.

They were presented as one big rubbery mass plonked on a plate. The squid itself did not taste very fresh.

For my main, I chose the sea bass fillet. The fish meat was beautifully cooked but the skin was soggy and I would have liked it crisper. The dish came with the same salsa and yoghurt dip as the starters, quite unimaginative I thought. My partner’s chicken and lamb mixed kebab was tasty and tender, although parts of the chicken were overly charred.

The service was good and the staff very attentive. When we complained about the squid there were lots of apologies and the offer from the chef to re-make the dish. We declined as we were short for time.

I was expecting a hearty Middle Eastern meal full of flavour but this visit was somewhat of a letdown. Perhaps a bit of a freshening up all round, both of the venue and the quality of the offer, would be welcome. Our total bill of £30 would ordinarily be very reasonable, but was a little grating on this particular occasion.

Istanbul Meze

Address: Street Lane, Roundhay

Rating **