ANATOLIA, 104 St Vincent Street, Glasgow Tel:
0141 221 8777
BLONDIE was flicking through the holiday brochures again, and past experience tells me that's going to cost
The way the gumshoe business has been paying lately, I didn't want Toots getting any fancy ideas.
"You can usually get a good deal on a Greek island," I ventured.
"Mmmm," she replied. "I was thinking Turkey?"
Oh, I knew where this was heading. The Moll's been giving me earache for a while about trying a Turkish place on the corner of Hope Street and St Vincent Street.
She was hoping I'd be so knocked out by the Turkish delight it would be right around to the travel agent's the minute we finished the coffees.
Well, I had to admire her chutzpah, and so we found ourselves at Anatolia, a Turkish haven right in the city centre.
First impressions were mixed. The place looks a treat: dazzling bar, lots of Turkish carpets and cushions for decor, and tables at upmarket cream leather booths. The place was filled with a delicious barbecue aroma and you could even see the hot coals in the open plan kitchen.
Problem was, we were pretty much the only people in there, so it looked like we were going to have to make our own ambience.
The staff seemed friendly and in no time we had a glass of cold white wine and a soft drink each and some complimentary bread with garlic butter while we checked out the huge menu.
We fell silent as we tried to figure out what to order. The bread, by the way, was terrific, somewhere between pitta and naan, but light and very more-ish. We ordered more.
It took a while to arrive and when it did, this time it was more of a foccaccia-style, but every bit as good. Wonder what we'd have got if we'd gone for thirds?
We went for a meze to start, a sharing platter of toasted halloumi cheese, stuffed vine leaves, sausage, filo parcels of spinach and cheese, falafel and whitebait. All tip-top and served with olives and salad.
The Moll was greedy enough to order the kalamari as well, and it was tender and expertly cooked.
For mains I was intrigued by chargrilled lamb's liver. Unfortunately, lots of others must have been too, as I was told it was all gone. Quickly scanning for a Plan B, I picked the Sac Kuvurma, diced lamb served sizzling on an iron plate.
The normally-carnivorous Moll obviously had culture shock, and ordered a vegetarian dolma, a plate of stuffed aubergines and peppers. Both came with rice, cooked silky smooth and with chick peas mixed in, an idea that shouldn't work, but does.
My lamb was so sizzling hot I was scared of it for a while, but it settled down to really tasty, if not the tenderest meat ever. How was Blondie faring with her meat-free choice? It looked fantastic, I had to admit, with lots of extra relishes and salads.
"It's all great, Tec," she said. What a relief.
We were letting out our belts by now, but the Turkish are famous for their sweets and coffees, so we needed to check them out. The Moll went for the Turkish rice pudding, served cold and spiced -decadent and not like school dinners at all.
I had the baklava, sticky pastry with pistachios soaked in syrup. It's so sweet it's a dentist's nightmare, but don't fight it, just go with it.
The perfect foil was a tiny Turkish coffee, served in a silver cup with a lid, and so dense and velvety it's unlike any mug of the black stuff I've ever had, and I've sucked down a few. Days later, I'm still having trouble sleeping - and I mean that as a compliment.
I liked Anatolia - a shorter menu and sharper service would give it a lift, but it offers something out of the ordinary. Well, off to the travel agent, then...
STARTERS: Meze platter £9
MAINS: Sac Kavurma £12.50
Sides: Bread £2.10
Desserts: Firin Sutlac £3.95
2 x White wine £9.90
2 x Lemonade £4.20