Antidote to a cold Sunday night: take the family to a Turkish restaurant in Sydney Road. You may as well. Everyone else does. It looks like half of Brunswick is here. We were there for an early dinner with my son and his wife and their three girls, Canisha, Shanra and Aria.
I didn't realise how big the place was until we stepped inside. The takeaway section is at the front, off to the right as you walk in the door, and beyond that is the first part of the restaurant. Then, behind that, through an archway about the size of the arc de triomph (just to mix countries), is a dining room that probably holds several thousand people. I'd hate to be the booking clerk. Or the chef. We sat in the middle section.
Waiters were flying around the room with platters held high. Huge baskets of bread from the oven, sizzling plates of meats straight off the grill, plates of dips and vine leaves and stuffed things and all manner of Turkish cuisine. One of the waiters took our orders and whizzed off to the kitchen and soon baskets of hot, fragrant Turkish bread were in front of us. A newly-uncorked bottle of red and fresh bread from the oven, is there anything better on a Sunday night?
Platters of dips joined the bread on the table - hummus, babaganouge, taramasalata, cacik (yogurt with cucumber, mint, garlic and olive oil) and other delicious combinations. You have to be careful at this stage of proceedings in a Turkish restaurant; you could eat enough bread and hummus to sink a ship and then not be able to eat anything else. And that would be a shame.
Canisha, 9, had carefully read the menu before announcing that she would be ordering the lamb kofte balls. They were about the size of a duck egg but flatter and they were very spicy and came with dipping yogurt. Canisha ate one carefully, as if considering the ingredients, and then said, like an adult, because she had ordered them herself, Yes, they are very spicy aren't they?
Two standout dishes: hot stuffed vine leaves with yogurt sauce, and a sizzling platter of roasted red pepper and eggplant with a layer of grilled cheese, topped with a tomato and garlic sauce. Fantastic.
Then it was time for coffee - Turkish - and dessert; and down past the arc de triomphe the music had started up and children were whirling around on the dancefloor and some of their parents joined them and some stayed at their tables and had a third glass of red wine or a fourth piece of baklava.