We love Turkish food, however on a cold, dreary Monday night as we pulled the car off the roaring North Circular into a dark, pot-holed carpark, one of the Walthamstowfoodies expressed concerns that we were going to be the only ones in Gökyüzü Chingford. But in the new, shiny, mammoth 300-seater restaurant sat at least 90 people wolfing down kebabs like it was a night out in Istanbul.
This is the latest branch of a long established Green Lanes Turkish restaurant. With its roadside views of the A406 this is not a scenic place, but we’ve been lured there once or even twice a week ever since by the food and atmosphere. It’s always loud and busy, and the music, service and food is authentically Turkish. Customers range from quiet couples to big groups of family and friends, and it always seems to be someone’s birthday celebrations.
As soon as you settle at your table, the generous free plates of food start to arrive; fresh chilli and garlic sauces, a big plate of mixed salad with pomegranate sauce, Cacik – a thick, rich yogurt and cucumber dip, and a basket of warm bread to mop it up.
Meze Starters (£3-4.50): the Lahmacun – thin, meat-topped Turkish pizza bread, and Yogurtlu Patlican Ezme – grilled aubergine, tahini & yogurt are delicious. The Calamari was a bit chewy but the light and fluffy Falafel and Humous is better and the cheesy Borek are dangerously addictive. There’s a few mixed meze and full grilled meat platter options for groups which work out about £10pp.
Mains (£8 or £14): All the kebabs we’ve tried have been excellent – the mixed platter for two (£23) including chicken shish and wings, chicken and lamb doner, lamb cubes, spicy minced adana skewer and ribs is easily enough for three; nearly everyone seems to leave with a take away box. The lamb ribs are amazingly juicy and the chicken shish has a great marinated flavour, and they’re all charcoal grilled to perfection.
The big surprise was the smoky Levrek – grilled sea bass, eating this reminded me of being back by the sea in Turkey. All mains are served with fresh salads, grilled chilli, onion and tomato, buttery rice, tomato-infused bulgur and more bread. There’s a good-looking veggie kebab option and we’ve not even started on the Pide Turkish pizzas, and Iskender and Beyti specials yet.
There’s desserts on the menu but we’ve never made it that far. We settle for a Turkish coffee, fresh mint tea or a free glass of Turkish tea. They’re open every day 12noon – 11pm and fully licensed with a range of wine (£4), beers (£3) and raki (£4) from Turkey and beyond. There’s even dinosaur crazy golf next door; so go and pretend for a few hours you’re on holiday by the beach, instead of a night out on the North Circular!