Restaurant review

Top service shines at Milas in Dundee

Back when we all knew and cared about what was No. 1 on the charts, there were occasional gripping national incidents called chart battles and the 1990s period of Britpop turned out to be the one of the best.

Then it seemed like the most pressing question to face in life was whether your favorite band was Blur or Oasis and your answer defined you better than any Ipsos Mori poll.

It wasn’t as fractured a question as it was when I was at Lochee Primary School when you were getting beat up for being the ‘wrong’ religion, but extensive screeds have been written on how whose allegiance to one group or another was as telling as the cut of your jib, the type of car you drove or whether you recycled your wine bottles and read the Guardian.

Still going against the grain, my answer to the Blur v Oasis question has always been “Sweden”.
Luckily, one thing everyone still agreed on was that Supergrass was a good thing, even if it meant they never made headlines for beating their contemporaries on the charts.

Indeed, the fact that everyone liked the band eventually led them to make badges declaring themselves “everyone’s second favorite band”.


Milas Kitchen and Bar

What does this trivial pop nonsense have to do with a review of Milas Kitchen and Bar in Dundee?

Well, while I thoroughly enjoyed our visit here on a rainy, windswept Wednesday, I can’t quite understand why I came away a bit disappointed, with a nagging feeling that Milas might become my second favorite Turkish restaurant in Dundee, or maybe even my third.

Inside Milas.

First up, of course, remains the acid travel experience that is Agacan on Perth Road, an iconoclastic riot of color, flavor and sheer madness that has to be experienced to be believed.

Sadly, this Blur of the Dundee Turkish restaurant scene feels more like a Record Store Day limited edition than a Brit Awards ticket, because it’s so small you really have to plan a visit well in advance to To book a table.


The place

No such problems at Milas, which is large and airy – moored in part of the space on Whitehall Crescent once occupied by the magnificent Draffens department store, which closed in 1981.

As well as being home to the iconic Fisher & Donaldson on the opposite side, Whitehall Crescent is now home to a series of restaurants occupying the space where the giant Draffens once ruled. The fact that they all look populist enough to me to be a crowd pleaser no doubt reflects their expensive and expansive position in the heart of Dundee, while the fact that footfall seems high gives hope for the survival of these commercial spaces first class.

However, I have to say that the rather soulless combined visual image of all those grand restaurant storefronts isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing on a street that was once so grand. More positively though, at least the buildings are being used and I guess that’s kind of progress in a city with so many empty and frustrating buildings at its
heart.

First impressions of Milas Kitchen are good and the fact that it was preceded by recommendations from trusted friends made our sense of anticipation all the higher.

posted by Milas Turkish Food and Bar to Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Unfortunately I didn’t like it as much as others, although it’s hard to explain why – the food we had was good, the service was lovely, the prices were cheap/reasonable and the space was quite pleasant.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

It was just a bit like eating at your second or third favorite Turkish restaurant in Dundee.

To be fair to the restaurant, it seems they are happy to build their clientele steadily and quietly – without any hype. There is no website, and their Instagram feed has a total of two images. The Facebook page has the menus and a few other posts, but not many. A request from the Courier to send a photographer to take pictures to accompany this piece was met with an unpolite – because they want the place to remain low-key.

None of the above is bad, although some might say it is naïve in the age of social media and online information. I mean, it’s a time when it’s easy and inexpensive to build a website, although of course you need someone to keep it updated all the time.

I think it would be beneficial here, because just having pictures of the menu on Facebook doesn’t give a good impression – restaurant menus are “cleverly” smudged to look like they’ve had food or a raging Bunsen burner on them and it just doesn’t translate visually online, where they just look like they’ve been stepped on.

The first thing to note is that this place is popular and seems to have a lot of repeat customs. We had reservations but there seems to be a high proportion of walk-ins, including two guys who had been there the night before and liked it so much they came back for more.

The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, with particularly enthusiastic staff. Our waitress, a lovely young lady from Wigan (sorry I know that sounds like the start of a limerick, but it’s not) was super-friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. She is literally the only person who said she didn’t expect any tip as I hastily tried – and failed – to find real money in my wallet.


The food

Our new friend from Wigan also helped us navigate the menu by suggesting we order the mixed mezze for two (£13.95) which she said would be cheaper than both of us ordering the same a la carte selection . She was right and this mixed selection is the way to go because it’s a real bargain.

My first choice of tarama starter was off the menu, which was a disappointment as good homemade tarama is a thing of joy – and also an indication of a restaurant’s competence.

Here I quote from the brilliant cookbook The Prawn Cocktail Years by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham, a seminal retro celebration I return to often, and a book that has a very good recipe for tarama: “The artificially pink tarama encountered in the supermarkets, corner shops and some Greek Cypriot restaurants are a far cry from reality.You may think that authentic pale flesh-coloured pasta is not appealing to Brits – but that is not the case for those who know what a real tarama should look like.

My first choice of tarama starter was off the menu, which was a disappointment as good homemade tarama is a thing of joy – and also an indication of a restaurant’s competence.

One of the dishes.

Here I quote from the brilliant cookbook The Prawn Cocktail Years by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham, a seminal retro celebration I return to often, and a book that has a very good recipe for tarama: “The artificially pink tarama encountered in the supermarkets, corner shops and some Greek Cypriot restaurants are a far cry from the real thing You may think that authentic pale flesh-coloured pasta is not appealing to Brits – but that is not the case for those who know what a real tarama should look like.

“Originally, Greek tarama (salata only means salad) was – and still is – made from dried and salted, unsmoked mullet roe. We have to use smoked cod roe in our recipe because it is all that is available.

Murray enjoyed the food, but it was the service that made his visit.

“It’s naturally a deep orange-red color from the drying and smoking process. Once the other ingredients are added, that’s when the pale pink hue starts to emerge.”

When available, Tarama de Milas (£5.25) is also normally part of the mixed mezze which we enjoyed, although we had a vegetarian version. This mixed selection is like a cold mezze greatest hit with humus, saksuka, ispanac tarator (steamed spinach with yogurt), yaprak sama (grape leaves) and the aforementioned tarama .

All of our vegetarian components were delicious even though grape leaves are on a short list of foods that make me run for the hills; my culinary nightmares are made of tripe, store-bought mayonnaise, cream of salad, tomato ketchup and stuffed grape leaves.

David’s halloumi (£5.50) was on the short list of hot starters and was delicious. He ate this as his version of a main course and didn’t feel aggrieved at all because the mixed mezze starter was so filling and could have fed three people instead of two.

More of what he tried.

The good homemade bread is plentiful.

I think I ordered wrong for my main course, although I still enjoyed it. My lamb casserole (£14.95) was quite rustic, which of course isn’t a bad thing – but it was just too one-dimensional for me, both in flavor and texture.

I think I ordered wrong for my main course, although I still enjoyed it. My lamb casserole (£14.95) was quite rustic, which of course isn’t a bad thing – but it was just too one-dimensional for me, both in flavor and texture.

The halloumi.

Accompanied by rice, it was a dish that could have benefited from a little less uniformity, both in presentation and texture. The lamb was thinly sliced ​​and served in a rich sauce, topped with yogurt and parsley. For me, that was just too much – every bite is the same and every foray into the mound of meat apparently multiplied it on the plate.

We finished with a huge portion of Baklava (£6) from a short dessert list recited by one of the waiters (there is no dessert menu).

Our total food bill came to 40.40 which I think is very reasonable.


The verdict

I feel rather mean not to rave about this place, which serves great freshly cooked food in the center of Dundee. This is obviously a good thing, and we need more places like this to open downtown.

But sometimes, just like in relationships, things make you unhappy or dissatisfied and sometimes it’s not even your partner’s fault. But intuition, mood, and instinct are very powerful parts of our arsenal, and sometimes it’s impossible to explain why you haven’t connected to a place.

I would definitely go back for a while – but I would probably return with a group of people when we can embrace the shared small plate community more.

For me, then, Milas might be the Supergrass of Turkish cuisine in Dundee, although it tops the charts for many others. As the romantic cliché goes, maybe it’s not them, it’s me.


Information

Address: Milas Kitchen and Bar, 5 Whitehall Street, Dundee, DD1 4AA
P: 01382 203777
W:

Prices: Starters from £4.50 (mixed mezze for two is £13.95); mains from £12.75; dessert around £6

Scoring:

  • Food: 4/5
  • Performance: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

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[Top service shines through at Milas in Dundee]

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