The Tas chain of Turkish restaurants has been a family favourite for about ten years – going together or individually with other friends. A particular favourite is Tas in The Cut to have a good-value set menu early evening before going to either The Old Vic or the National Theatre, but I like the Bloomsbury one too. Last night, Elsa suggested we meet at Tas Pide, a newer Tas branch near The Globe Theatre where, she told me, the menu is a bit different and as well as their traditional Anatolian dishes, they serve pide (pronounced: peed-ah).
Now I’ve always loved Tas’s bread. I confess to being a bit of a ‘good bread addict’ at any time, but there’s something very special about Tas’s traditional Turkish bread, the texture similar to a thin Italian focaccia, cooked in a wood-burning oven, that has a gorgeous, more-ish taste. I have to limit myself from tucking in to too much before the rest of the food arrives.
They’re always great at re-filling the dish of bread and it comes with a dip and olives as a complimentary extra at the beginning of the meal. My liking of their bread already confirmed, imagine my delight at discovering pide, where the bread is rolled thin and topped a bit like a pizza.
You could have one of these on their own, particularly at lunchtime or for a light meal, but Elsa suggested we share one as a starter, which I thought a great idea. There were plenty of toppings to choose from but we went for a simpler version as a starter with feta cheese and tomatoes. It was gorgeously fresh, straight from their wood-fired oven, a good amount of filling and the bread ‘basket’ wrapped round had sesame seeds sprinkled on it, making the outside crisp and slightly sweet tasting from the seeds. It was excellent. They also brought a bowl of some pickled red cabbage.
I decided to branch out from my usual choice of koftes or sis kebabs and chose Hunkar Begendi, a ‘grilled aubergine puree mixed with kashar cheese and topped with tender chunks of lamb’ for my main course.
This was seriously good: the aubergine very cheesy but soft, smooth and delicious and topped with the tenderest of lamb, cooked in a tomato sauce. Elsa also chose lamb – Incik, a lamb shank cooked in the oven with tomato sauce which, she told me, was also very good.
There were some tempting desserts (their baklava is wonderful) but we decided not to have anything else. We’d had three glasses of a Californian cabernet-zinfandel red wine – a glass each but then decided to share another for a bit more at the end as we talked on. Our bill came to £25 each with service included.
It’s an interesting area of London with The Globe nearby (the restaurant is in New Globe Walk) and Tate Modern, with a view of St Paul’s just across the river, so this Tas is a great place to know about when in the Southwark Bridge area.
I liked Tas Pide. There’s a more of a ‘country’ feel to it than the other branches, so more relaxing to sit in for some time. The staff were friendly and the service quick and efficient. It’s good, simple, honest food at very reasonable prices. We’re not talking haute cuisine here but it offers something very different to the usual chains and is really a bit special. I’m sure Tas Pide is going to be added to my list of favourite haunts in central London.