I hate choosing where to dine. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting restaurants and enjoying good food, but deciding where to eat is the worst part of the whole experience.
This is a first world problem. That evening, my boyfriend and I had planned a great meal to celebrate our vacation, but less than five hours before, I still couldn’t decide where to go.
Didn’t fancy Italian food, which seems to rule out most restaurants in Aberdeen. I also didn’t want an Indian or Chinese meal. Generally, I prefer to eat them sitting in my pajamas in front of the TV.
Then Google had the advantage, suggesting a small Turkish restaurant just five minutes from my front door – Rendez-vous @ Nargile.
Despite passing by several times a week, I had never been there.
So that evening I was pleased to see a few tables still available as we walked in and were shown to a spot by the window.
Located on Forest Avenue in Aberdeen’s West End, we had a pleasant view of the restaurant’s summer terrace (which was windswept when we visited).
Instead of starters, the menu begins with a large selection of hot and cold mezes.
As a pescatarian, it was a pleasure to see so many vegetarian options – usually there’s only one, maybe two choices for non-meat eaters in restaurants.
Unable to decide what to have (seems to be a common theme), I suggested we pick a selection and share it. Fortunately, my boyfriend accepted.
Borek (fried filo rolls stuffed with spinach and feta) came first, along with Hellim Teva – slices of halloumi cheese lightly fried in chili oil. A generous dish of thick tzatziki and a plate of warm pitta bread also quickly arrived on the table, along with a serving of calamari.
Everything was delicious and I enjoyed dipping the spinach rolls in the garlic tzatziki. It’s probably sacrilege in Turkey, but I can assure you it was worth it.
To wash it all down, my boyfriend gulped down a large bottle of Efes Turkish lager while I enjoyed a tall glass of Rioja.
The great veggie and fish options continued into the main courses section and it took me forever to choose what I wanted.
Iskender, a dish of minced pitta and garlic with zucchini, halloumi and red pepper, was a close contender, as was Firinda Karisik Balik – oven-roasted monkfish with olive sauce.
I settled on Patlican Kizartma, which is lightly fried eggplant slices covered in yogurt, feta cheese and a roasted red pepper sauce.
My boyfriend chose Geyik Antrecot Izgara – venison cutlets served with garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes and a rich brandy and red currant jus.
Normally you only see game in large chunky chunks, served alone or in a stew, so these thin, tender cuts of meat were quite different from the norm.
Both dishes were extremely tasty and came with lots of sauce. The venison in particular was soft and tender.
They were also generous portions and I couldn’t finish my plate.
The waitress was attentive and smiled when I asked for a short break before considering dessert – I guessed that must happen often.
Eventually we ordered baklava. It didn’t feel right to visit a Turkish restaurant without tasting it.
Three squares of sticky, sweet filo pastry arrived with a big scoop of ice cream and suddenly I found I had more room in my stomach than I thought.
There were two flavors, chocolate and nut, and both were flaky, chewy and slightly sickly like only the best baklava is.
We lingered over the sweets, scraping every last bit of syrup from the plate.
I finished with a cup of fresh mint tea. It’s not really “tea” but a handful of fresh mint leaves over which boiling water is poured to release their flavor and then lightly sweetened with honey.
It was a big thing in Europe when I lived in the Netherlands, but you hardly ever see it in the UK, so I was glad to see it on the menu.
My boyfriend laughed at my cup of leaves behind his own little espresso cup. Although I guess I had the last laugh when I slept like a baby and was full of caffeine.
It was still gusting outside, but that wasn’t the only reason we didn’t want to leave.
The restaurant was warm and welcoming. Even though most of the tables were occupied, we didn’t feel rushed to finish.
Eventually, of course, we did.
And as I looked back when we were back on the street, Rendezvous @ Nargile looked like a luminous oasis in a stormy night.
Phillipa Gerrard is Co-Head of Environment and Transportation and Reviewer.
Address: Rendezvous @ Nargile, 106–108 Forest Avenue, Aberdeen, AB15 4UP
P: 01224 323700
Price: £93.05 for two courses for two people, one dessert, coffee, wine and beer
- Food: 4/5
- Performance: 5/5
- Surroundings: 3/5
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[A Turkish treat at Rendezvous @ Nargile in Aberdeen]