Ozlem, Dalston

Monday, 28 December 2009 | |

Let's start this post off with quite a big claim: Ozlem Restaurant on Prince George Road in Dalston is the best Turkish restaurant in an area where there are plenty of examples of the genre, and therefore the best in London. The efforts of those in Green Lanes come close, but none of them can match Ozlem for pure deliciousness when it comes to the eating.

We visited on Christmas day and unsurprisingly they were open. Calling early on the 25th to find out if they would be open, the man on the other end replied sharply that of course they would. Upon arriving it was pleasantly busy and everyone in the restaurant was Turkish - always a good sign. That's the thing about Ozlem. It's full of people who like authentic Turkish food cooked brilliantly, unlike other more hyped restaurants nearby, perhaps due to the side street location, or perhaps not a lot has been written about the restaurant. I'm not sure, but it should be a lot busier.

Anyway, on to what we ate. There was a lot of food, and a lot of it on the house. Not a case of special treatment for regular patrons, but rather an act of both courtesy and hospitality for their customers.

Out first was the esme salad. I suppose this is kind of a Turkish rendition of a tabbouleh with an added kick. The hot chilli comes from fresh green peppers, while a fresh zing not too dissimilar to a pico de gallo comes from lemon juice and tomatoes. A great, fresh tasting salad.

Hummus is a starter that perhaps orders itself and is always welcome on the table, particularly here where they do it particularly well. Packed with more garlic than a Lebanese version and topped with sumac, it provides a great dip for some of Ozlem's warmed-up pide bread.

The main starter ordered for the table was lahmacun, otherwise known as Turkish pizza, only resembling a pizza in it's circular shape. Topped with a light smear of tomato sauce, minced lamb, onions and peppers, this thinly rolled bread is great when done well. In my opinion no where does it better than Ozlem, which specialises in lahmacun (they call themselves a lahmacun salonu). Each triangle of the lahmacun is a joy when packed with the regulation salad which counteracts the full buttery mouth feel with an acidic zing.

My mum went for the special of the day, which was an aubergine filled with mincemeat and onions and sitting in a tomato broth. Rather bland sounding but executed well with great ingredients and clear flavours that complimented each other. The broth proved great for dipping bread in.

A grilled onion salad was brought out (gratis) to accompany and counteract the fat of the grilled meats we had ordered for our main courses. The salad consisted of a plate of onions in pomegranate molasses, sumac and parsley. Surprisingly delicious.

I decided to go with my favourite, the adana. The Turkish name for kofte, which had a beautiful charred flavour from the ocakbasi grill, while the parsley, onion and pepper provide enough flavour to compliment the minced lamb. The two skewers of meat arrived sitting on a piece of bread that soaked up the juices, while some beautifully buttery rice sat in a mound on the side with some pretty pointless tomatoes and a chilli pepper.

Ordering a dish from the 'kebabs' section of the menu results in the plates looking pretty similar apart from the choice of meat sitting on the bread. My brother went for the cop sis, cubes of lamb cooked on the grill and then topped with butter. Beautifully rich meat and perhaps the strongest item on the menu. Seriously delicious, the best lamb shish I've ever tasted.

My dad went for the lamb chops (pirzola). Cooked perfectly, seasoned well and incredibly tender, these are also a good choice but not something I'd personally order. For lamb chops I can't look much past those at Needoo Grill, though these are tasty.

Some complimentary tea is brought out at the end and there's never any room for the desserts on offer, such as baklava and rice pudding. This meal for four people to stuff themselves silly comes in at £55 including a sizeable tip, though that's without any alcohol. Seriously cheap however you look at it. Time Out would do well to recommend this place instead of those they said would be open on Christmas Day with ridiculously expensive set menus. If you're looking for a great Turkish restaurant then I can't recommend Ozlem enough. Great staff and great food.

Ozlem Turkish Pizza on Urbanspoon


comradephil said...

This looks fantastic. Will definitely make a note to visit this place.

Ibzo said...

Make sure you do try it out, it's brilliant.. Kind of out of the way but worth a detour and a visit.

food dude said...

do they serve alcohol there or is it bring your own?

So far the only Turkish restaurant that I have found that doesn't serve alcohol in that area is aziziye

Ibzo said...

They do serve alcohol there, yeah. Efes for beer and some Turkish wines. Not sure how good the Turkish wines are, but Efes is good, I'm a fan.

To be honest, I'm sure you could bring your own and they wouldn't mind too much, they're quite easy going. Give them a call on 02072759974 maybe :)

Foodycat said...

That all looks amazing! And it's just down the road from my dance studio, so I can definitely seen a post-class dinner coming on!

Graham Stepney said...

Nice people, good food. Thoroughly enjoyable. They could do with a few more customers. Sadly under-subscribed. We passes Arcola Street on the way home and they were queuing out the door.

Ibzo said...

I know what you mean, Graham. They certainly do need some more people in there, especially when you have scenes like the ones you witnessed on Arcola St. Perhaps someone from Time Out could visit and put Ozlem on the map. I wouldn't even mind if they were to claim that they discovered it!

TC said...

Added your thoughts to my post at www.thirtyoneseventyfive.com...

the little food fiend said...

We love this place! We bring our friends, family and housemates here all the time and now they do the same. They even do delivery to your home for FREE - a service we have taken advantage of on many occasions.

The staff are always gracious, friendly and good-humoured. The starters are delicious (best lamachun around, in our opinion) as are the kebabs. All of the portions are enormous and much cheaper than other restaurants.

Don't be put off by the decor - it does look more like a large kebab shop or cafe rather than an actual restaurant but when the people are so nice, the food delicious, the prices low, AND you can bring your own wine for no extra charge, we have found that there just isn't any point going anywhere else. On the few occasion we have decided to try somewhere new we have always felt disappointed, either by the quality of the food we receive, or the prices which are sometimes DOUBLE what Ozlem charge.

Go and eat here - if you don't enjoy it, it is because you are a miserable old Scrooge!

Anonymous said...

They used to be so packed before the cirriks opened up, 90% of their orders are takeaway you'd order instead of cooking at home. Ozlem is the original and what turkish restaurants used to all look like, I think some people don't like the style but I feel more at home there,those who know know, and they're still the same management. Other good restaurant although tiiinnnnyyyy is Umut 2000. Either way you can't go wrong with Turkish food in stokie, they wouldn't last, I think timeout should think about the 17 years they've been running.

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