Life

Eating Out: Tucked away Turkey Street Food is certainly right up my alley

Turkey Street Food on Ventry Street in Belfast – the meat they’re grilling here is superb. Picture by Mal McCann
Seamus Maloney

Turkey Street Food

2 Ventry St

Belfast

BT2 7JP

028 9031 5978

turkeystreetfood.com

IT’S the holy grail: finding a tiny place up a deserted side street you can’t wait to let everyone know about – or greedily keep to yourself.

If it’s on holiday, you’ll come back raving about a wee place on a cobbled cul de sac in Paris where nuns make just 11 macaroons a day – one for every apostle except that Judas one – that taste like little airy, chewy pillows of heaven.

Or the four-table room, somewhere in a maze of streets away from the bustle and din of the tourists in Venice, where they just serve bowls of soft-shell crabs and even then only on days the irascible owner is satisfied with the way the sun glints off the backs of that morning’s catch.

Places like this make you feel what you’re about to eat must be special because of all that guff you’ve just read. And if they’re tucked away from the corporate drone of the high street, they’re bound to be better.

They’re – God help us – hidden gems. So hidden that they’ll probably appear on every list of “hidden gems in *insert name of town or city here*” a quick internet search can provide.

Sometimes places like this are great. Sometimes you end up schlepping through the streets to find a hole in the wall you’ve been told will make you a burger that will make you cry and it turns out a Big Mac would have been a better bet.

Being a tiny place up a deserted side street isn’t enough by itself. The food needs to do the heavy lifting.

Turkey Street Food has got the requisite out-of-the-way location. On Ventry Street near Belfast city centre, squeezed between Great Victoria Street and Dublin Road. It’s also the requisite size – tiny – with a few chairs and tables, though, as it’s much more of a takeaway that anything else, you know it hasn’t been done to create some hard-to-get-in buzz.

It’s also much more than a takeaway, even though it’s open until 3am at weekends and is perfectly positioned to help the hoards soak up their revelry with a kebab or something saucy tipped over a portion of chips.

But this is no ordinary kebab shop. For starters, there’s so much more available than said kebabs.

But while we’re here we may as well talk about the kebabs because the meat they’re grilling here is superb.

Cubes of lamb shoulder, chicken in wing, chunks of breast and shredded thigh form, lamb chops and beautifully spiced lamb and beef koftas are all smoky and blistered and delicious.

They come as part of the mixed platter for two for £25, which also has excellent flatbread and some slightly sticky rice, though the single serving platter for a tenner cheaper would have been plenty to share.

In fact, when you look at the bill at the bottom of this, consider it payment for a couple of days’ worth of eating.

That includes the dizzying array of mezze for £8, picked from the fantastic selection of almost exclusively vegetarian and vegan small dishes.

Sweet, fresh, carrot and beetroot salads, slicked with yogurt and garlic were cooling, especially handy when the long, slender, incendiary pickled green chilis, which looked like green beans, were mistaken for green beans and eaten like green beans.

Bulgar wheat and lentil koftes were fantastically moist and fragrant, a puree of tomatoes and red pepper was a whack of thumping flavour, that worked best when smeared on some of the bread and wrapped round any of the fantastic meat.

There was flawless hummus and a cleansing salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, parsley and lemon too.

Aryan, a salted yogurt drink, and halva, a tooth-achingly sweet sesame confection, aren’t likely to find much favour with the post-pub crowd but they were like everything at Turkey Street Food – fresh, authentic, well-made and delicious.

And everything about Turkey Street Food tells you you have indeed found that holy grail – even if it’s one you’ve found on Deliveroo.

THE BILL

Mixed mezze platter £8

Kebab platter for two £25

Shepherd’s salad £3.50

Halva £4

Aryan x2 £4

Total £44.50

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