For some reason the best Turkish restaurants are not always treated with the same high regard as say, the finest Italian Ristorante or French Bistro, which is a pity as there are some really fantastic ones around in the capital. Oklava in Shoreditch is awesome Yeni is Soho is too and since the start of the year London has been graced with another one, Baraka.
Located in Finsbury Avenue Square, 5mins from Liverpool St Station, the word Baraka translates as an old wooden home where people socialise. It’s a slightly strange name for this restaurant as the architecture is dark, sleek and stylish and as there isn’t that homely cosy-ness you sometimes associate with Turkish restaurants. Maybe partly that is because it’s so new, perhaps once Baraka beds into its surroundings this will develop a touch and when Summer arrives its large outdoor area plush with Turkish foliage and olive trees will become the perfect place to socialise and eat well.
That’s not to say it isn’t a cool place, it is. The open kitchen is fantastic and the energetic chefs shoot flames from the open flame Mangal like firewaters at the circus, cooking recipes straight from the Ottoman Empire.
It adds a nice touch of theatre to the minimalist coolness and the restaurants ethos is with a dedication to sourcing local ingredients wherever possible combined with exotic herbs that compliment a menu full of traditional Turkish delights such as Grilled Sucuk – Turkish beef sausage, Anatolian piyaz, Ciger Tava- Seared lamb liver, Icli Kofte – fried minced lamb, wrapped with bulgar and a wonderful mixed Meze together with some delicious veggie dishes – ‘Hullumi, honey goats cheese with pomegranate sauce and Falafel.
Turkish food can often be meat dominated and while Baraka offers such delights as 24-hour marinated chicken, slow braised shoulder of lamb tagine, served on the bone with prunes, apricots, almonds and rice, their vegetarian and fish dishes pack a punch too. My companion ordered a grilled Wild Seabass with spiced new potatoes and tender stem broccoli, which while not the most Turkish dish on the menu was wonderful prepared and tasted fantastic.
After a difficult choice, I went for the Baraka Special – Grilled diced lamb loin, fire-roasted puree aubergine, yoghurt, paprika and rice. The lamb was sooo tender and the aubergine complimented it perfectly.
You can normally suss out a Turkish restaurant based solely on the quality of their hummas, and the hummus at Baraka is amazing. So too are the warm breads and for fans of an after-dinner sugar rush, the Baklava is obligatory. I also tried a Kazandibi, a traditional Turkish dessert not unlike Crème brûlée.
As the front of the restaurant is primarily a bar, the spicy cocktails are definitely prepared with as much skill and love as the food, worth a try too is the wine. I know Red goes great with red meats, but we had a really great bottle of Çankaya, one of Turkey’s best white wines, it’s great blend of citrus and white fruits was perfect with the fish and still powerful enough to compliment my lamb too.
Prices are good and most main dishes are between £13-18. All in all, despite the huge competition for customers in London, Baraka offers enough great food, ambience and value for money to establish its place in the restaurant scene in this part of the capital. I will be back again soon.
Baraka – Turkish Restaurant
1, Unit 4 Finsbury Ave, Broadgate, London EC2M 2PF