Green Lane, Harringay, is home to a number of Turkish establishments, all of which have rave reviews and form the basis for positive anecdotes by food lovers all around. As someone who hasn’t ventured into Harringay before, it’s naturally become prominent territory on my cuisine campaign map. And so, I began the Harringay hunt with Diyarbakir, one of the many well-established veterans of Green Lane. All the meat here is halal.
Normally, I’m a little wary of ordering mountains of meat from a Turkish restaurant on the first visit (as often, a lot of it is grossly overcooked), but given the general positivity that surrounds Diyarbakir, the impressive look of the mixed grills, and the fact this was my mid-exam season recovery meal, Steak and I decided to opt for their first special platter.
Our platter consisted of a selection of mezzes, Adana lamb shish, chicken shish, lamb kofte, lamb ribs, and chicken wings on a bed of rice and lentils. The mezzes included a salad, grilled aubergine, and chickpeas in a thick creamy sauce, and all possessed strong and vibrant flavours. The salad, covered in a pomegranate based dressing, provided an acidic kick, and acted as a pleasant palate cleanser in between mouthfuls of meat.
The meat itself was very much a mixed bag. The lamb kofte was fairly tender with a mild hint of spice, whilst the lamb cubes were rather tough, with only a mild strength in terms of flavour. Similarly, the chicken cubes were rather dry, bland and unexciting. A bit like my personality.
However, the chicken wings, though very small and slightly undercooked, were soft, moist, and well-seasoned. The lamb ribs were a fairly temperamental affair. Some were succulent, whilst others were tough, and the fat in all of them was sadly overdone. Despite this, they possessed a strong flavour and a strong smokey essence which I assume was the result of a charcoal grill. (Or at least I hope it was. I’d be terribly cross if I discovered that the chef smokes shisha whilst cooking).
The bread too possessed this strong smokey essence. Whilst I enjoyed it, it put Steak off the bread altogether – (more carbs for me, I wasn’t complaining). Though the bread was of a fairly average quality, it was thick and soft nonetheless.
At the base of the platter sat a bed of rice and lentils, which were soft, full of flavour and very moist, mainly as a result of being submerged in their own mildly savoury juices. Shreds of lamb donner lay atop of the rice and lentils, and these were soft with moderate flavour, serving well to complement the rice and lentils.
Much to our surprise, once we had muscled our way through the platter, the staff brought us a free serving of sutlac and turkish tea. Some of you might scoff at the presentation of the Sutlac, but if someone is willing to give me free dessert, they could present it by slapping it onto my face for all I care. The sutlac was thick and creamy with a smooth sweetness, a strong essence of rosewater and a firm (albeit slightly burnt) skin.
As a coffee-drinker with taste buds that enjoy a good kick in the face, I normally avoid Turkish tea altogether and opt for Turkish coffee. However, unlike most Turkish teas – which often taste like a pot of plain hot water – Diyarbakir’s tea possessed strong flavours and a very subtle bitter touch, which soothed the palate.
Starters range from £3-£5, mains range from £8-£15, and special platters range from £24 – £44. Our special platter cost £24. Portions are fair and reasonable, and though certain elements are lacking, generally, the quality of the food is as reasonable as you’d expect it to be.
Staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming, although when it’s busy, you can feel a little lost in the rush. Nonetheless, service is quick, and hey – free sutlac and tea. If freebies don’t win you over, it’s probably because you’re Gujarati and you expect them anyway. (Joke).
Diyarbakir is a small-to-medium-sized restaurant, and it can be as cramped as a family barbecue on a studio flat balcony. The furniture has very much been rammed in, with little space to manoeuvre, (especially when your stomach is as wide as mine). A number of paintings litter the restaurant, but the general decor lacks a significant presence. Having said that, one particularly attractive feature is the brick arch that separates the main dining area from the takeaway area. It’s worth bearing in mind however that Diyarbakir is a simple restaurant, and it’s still quite attractive in that respect.
The restaurant is a quick 5-10 minute walk, (and a straightforward downhill one at that) from Harringay railway station (whilst we’re on the topic, it’s a rather remote station with a pleasant I-feel-like-I’m-going-to-be-murdered feeling). However the walk back up to the station may be more of a struggle depending on how much you expanded your waistline by. Parking should be more than easy to find on the surrounding residential roads.
As mentioned already, Diyarbakir can get very busy and very densely-packed. This can add a sense of rush, but for the most part, the hubub adds to the ambience, and it’s still very easy to enjoy some privacy despite the close quarter nature of the seating.
Whilst Diyarbakir is heralded by some to serve superior Turkish food, I can’t help but feel that it’s simply superiorly average. Despite falling a little short of the reputation that precedes it, it remains a humble and resonable carrier of the Turkish flag on my map, and I would certainly return to explore what more it has to offer.