In Dunfermline the opening of a new restaurant is really quite a big deal, or at least it is to me. The latest, very welcome, addition to Dunfermline’s rather small clutch of decent eating places is the Turkish restaurant Antioch. I stalked Antioch weeks before they actually opened – reporting to my long-suffering husband on the progress of the interior and exterior decor. “They are painting the outside now” and “I peered in and noticed they had lovely lighting” – that sort of strangely obsessive behaviour.
There was much anticipation …… far too much most would say. Finally myself, BC and two of our friends headed out. There is always a risk on a night minus children that you peak to early with pre-dinner fizz and fail to enjoy/see/remember the dinner. Thankfully this was not the case on this particular occasion.
Antioch had a full house that evening which was fantastic. Nothing better than walking into a warm buzzing atmosphere of happy people enjoying their food. Our table wasn’t quite ready so a smiley waiter whisked us over to the bar for a Turkish tea which tasted pretty much like normal black tea but in a very ornate and pretty cup, I believe it is all about the process of making the tea rather than the tea leaves themselves. I am no aficionado.
And at last to the food
“In addition to being the refined product of centuries of experience, Turkish Cuisine has a very pure quality. The variety and simplicity of the recipes and the quality of the ingredients are guarantees of delicious meals.”
Well I am not going to argue with that. Turkish cuisine is not the place for fussy sauces or silly fads like foam (I blanch when I see foam as part of a dish). It is based on very basic and very tasty dishes with lamb and chicken taking centre stage. I absolutely love the food from this part of the world – Lamb, aubergine, pine nuts, feta, mint, hummus, couscous, baklava – would all appear in my top 50 list of all time favourite foods and flavours.
The menu is made up of a selection of cold and hot mezze starters and then it is down to the big grill being worked at the back of the restaurant (hot job). At Antioch the food is a great example of simple produce done well. On this visit (I have been back half way through the writing of this blog) I ordered the sigara borek with feta cheese to kick off proceedings. This is a cigar-shaped roll of filo pastry filled with feta and seasoning and despite its absolute simplicity it is rather fantastic and pretty sizeable as a starter portion. The sigara borek also comes with spiced lamb mince option which I will try sometime very soon. I then selected lamb meatballs which were absolutely fantabulous. They did come in a very simple tomato and pepper sauce which made quick work of any left over flat breads lying around our table. Every dish also comes with a small (very small) mound of giant couscous and a token dab of salad. Turkish chefs certainly know their meat, which was cooked and seasoned to perfection. The only desserts on offer at Antioch are ice cream or Baklava and I am ashamed to say I had neither on this first occasion – what was I thinking? (fear not – scroll down for baklava action)
I have only two criticisms of Antioch and they are easily fixable. The first is that the only hot drink options available on the night were Turkish Tea and Turkish Coffee, neither of which are suitable for a decaf drinker like me. I did take a risk and have a few sips of the complimentary Turkish Tea at the start of the night but as I am really a decaf free lady I was left with no post dinner hottie. Even those who like a caffeine hit may struggle with the concept of Turkish coffee – rocket fuel I believe. The other minor niggle was the service which was a little slow but to be honest I think our lovely waiter was new and getting to grips with things. They need to be a little slicker going forward. There might not be many fabulous eateries in this neck of the woods but discerning diners have no issue high tailing it to nearby Edinburgh so putting in that extra mile is important.
……..I have taken a few weeks to finish writing this blog and have trotted back to Antioch to try that Baklava and oh sweet Lord is it good! Three quite large baklava with a token (and rather unnecessary) blob of skooshy cream. Baklava is just the best thing ever – rich, sweet, sticky, flaky and nutty. It is worth going to Antioch just for this!
On my second visit I had the Chicken Kebab. I had scoffed all of my flatbread with my super tasty falafel before the chicken arrived and wished that I hadn’t as chicken is pretty much all that you are getting along with your token mound of couscous. This is not a complaint ….. the chicken is sublime and stands up quite well on its own thank you very much. It is beautifully seasoned and absolutely perfectly cooked with that lovely smokey char grilled flavour – you just need to keep your flat breads for it. I felt that a little side sauce would not go a miss however a friend who has spent a lot of time in Turkey informs me that this would not be terribly authentic. Fair enough!
I think this is a great addition to Dunfermline and will be back again. If you like your meat then you will be very happy as they are extremely good at it! I am sure tiny niggles will be ironed out as time floats on. Well done Antioch, you have yourself a fan!