“ Address: Green Lanes / London N4 1DU / Telephone: 020 8809 2777 „
Diyarbakir is a Turkish Restaurant on Green Lanes (A10), in the borough of Haringey, North London, a 7-8 minute walk from Manor House Tube station and practically seconds away from Harringay Green Lanes rail entrance. Undoubtedly, the densest Turkish restaurant population in London, if not, the whole planet, including Istanbul itself. I moved to this area in 2005 and my decision was mainly down to the great value restauration and the Mediterranean (Turkish - Cypriot - Greek - Middles Eastern) groceries having grown up on the stuff.
You can spot the trays of lovely, colourful daily stews from the street as they are displayed in the window. As you enter, the long chilled counter is on your left with a huge menu board overhead. The decor is simple, now repainted a warm yellow and red. Unlike most of the restaurants in the neighbourhood, the decor isn't fancy, the chairs and tables are no frills, more like something you'd expect to see in a canteen. so this must be a way of them managing their space as I have to admit, the place isn't huge and those big wooden tables / chairs simply wouldn't fit in. If you look at the picture, you can already see half of the restaurant, it's quite small, I would say there are 6 - 7 tables for 4 altogether and a couple of small ones thrown in.
The overhead menu at the counter is bilingual and accurately priced. The table menu is partly English and partly Turkish which means the names of the food are always in Turkish, followed by a short description in English. Don't worry though, the staff (mostly local lads or ladies of Turkish origin) will happily explain anything to do with the food, that's how I know e.g. how they make certain kebabs, what kind of meat they put in them etc.
We quickly realised that the large potions are actually enough for two so I started ordering small kebabs. Unfortunately, the special kebabs only come in large size however they are always happy to make you a takaway bag.
~ Always available / ready to eat ~
Made with crushed yellow lentils, it's a hearty and filling soup yet still low-fat and overall low calorie. Ideal for lunch. I often had it when I didn't feel like having meat as they don't have other vegetarian options.
You have to love yoghurt to enjoy this one, this is a nice, filling soup but not as creamy as the lentil soup.
The daily stews are not on the menu as they are always available. If you're unfamiliar with them, these are meat (lamb or chicken) based and come with a generous garnish of stewed vegetables such as tomatoes, bell pepper and aubergines. There are two types of lamb stews, one with and one without aubergines. The third variety is the chicken based one with aubergines and the rest of the vegetables.
~ Made to order ~
You have the usual kebab menu of about 12 varieties including the well-known doner (lamb / chicken scraped from the spit) or shish (marinated chicken or lamb pieces roasted on skewers on a charcoal grill). They are all delicious though as you go down the list, you get to try to more unusual kebabs only available in Turkish cuisine.
I've included some of the kebabs I've tried that you may be unfamiliar with. All kebab dishes come with Turkish rice garnished with tomatoes and peppers roasted on the grill alongside the meat and fresh, hot, chunky and fluffy Turkish style naan bread.
This is also called 'kofte' in other regions of the Middle East. The main ingredient is ground lamb mixed with some fat (about 20% I think) so it's something I only had once or twice due to the high fat content. Obviously its taste will be smoother and less marked than the pure meat kebabs.
Cop Shish (pronounce: chop)
This is your regular shish with the difference being the meat is cut into a lot smaller chunks than normal shish on a wooden skewer called 'cop'. The result is a more well-done, juicier lamb taste as you'll get more roasted surface than with having larger chunks.
The 'big boys' meal! It's a doner kebab on a bed of bread with yoghurt and a hot tomato-based Anatolian sauce. It's served in a hot pan, the dish is piping hot and just before serving, they add sizzling melted butter on it. Usual garnish. It's lovely though a bit on the heavy side. It only comes in large portion so I only order this when I'm very hungry or we've been out all day hiking or doing sports.
Same as Iskender without the Anatolian sauce.
This isn't my favourite as I don't like pizza too much, though I tried it when a friend of mine ordered it. It's basically mince lamb - tomato based medium-thick crepe that's folded in two. It's mildly spicy which I precise as 95% of Turkish meals aren't hot, the spiciness is the same mild spicy taste you get in the roasted chilli pepper with your kebab dishes.
It's worth mentioning that there is a variety of rice they serve in Turkish restaurants, different from the usual long-grain or Basmati rice found in supermarkets. A friend of mine once said it was the best rice she ever had. Turkish rice is smaller, rounder and has an off-white colour. It's savoury and possibly more nutritious than white rice. You can buy this rice in any grocery store on Green Lanes.
Our preferred takeaway for two at £8 we bought on a weekly basis for a quick and hearty dinner consisted of a large stew (big box), small rice (small box), salad (mixed salad in a small box) and naan bread. All this for a couple and we ate well I have to say.
Other takaways we had was a large shish kebab (two skewers) with rice, salad and naan bread again at £8.
We tend to order Ayran, which is Turkey's national yoghurt based drink. It's 50% yoghurt and 50% water ever so lightly salted so an ideal thirst quencher. I think a 300ml glass costs £1, and can be bought in the supermarkets nearby for 50p / 250ml carton.
Coke, Fanta, water etc.
The soft drink cans / water are all 50p.
They'll ask you if you wanted tea at the end of the meal. Traditional Turkish black tea is served hot, already brewed and sweetened (a lot!) in a tiny glass known across the Middle East / North Africa. The taste is very unlike English tea, it looks golden, transparent but it's still strong so if you drink it at 11PM you might be in for a sleepness night.
CLEANLINESS / TOILETS
The cleanliness is excellent, staff wipe tables straight away after use, mainly because there are new people taking the place immediately. You can see the chefs preparing food from the chilled counter on the charcoal grill so this adds to the authenticity and that they aren't trying to hide anything from you.
The toilets are situated just on the right in the corridor that leads to the kitchen area. It's a tiny cabin but there's never been a shortage of toilet paper or soap.
As far as I can remember, we always found tables, even on busy weekend nights (the busiest will be Sunday night with Turkish families coming to dinner). At weekends, the restaurant will be noisier especially and you may be restricted to a tiny table for two stuck between other diners with their tiny two- people tables.
The crowd will mean more and busier staff who'll come and go between the kitchen and serving area and when the restaurant is really busy, they may get a backlog. However, they are easy to approach and always friendly.
Of all the times we've been, we only had to wait once for about 10 minutes for the salad to come as the restaurant was packed full. When we protested, we got an extra one with radish and olives plus humus! (Yum!)
The drinks come seconds after you ordered, and they also make you a green salad with tradiional, thick, quite garlicky tzatziki to get you started. This is 'the' starter that comes with as an accompaniment to the dishes together with the bread they'll serve you whether you ask for it or not.
Our meal for two usually comes at a mere £15 - £16 which on average include a small stew or shish for me and a large stew / kebab for my boyfriend, plus a couple of Ayrans. If you both order large portions of kebabs or stews, the overall bill would come at about £20, including drinks.
The restaurant accepts cash only. There's a Barclays hole in the wall next door though should you need it.
In the past three years I've visited the restaurant on a regular basis, once or twice a week to eat in or have a takeaway. The food has been consistently excellent, the service quick and friendly and the portions more than enough. I've been to practically all the other Turkish, Greek and Kurdish restaurants nearby at least once, but I kept going back to Diyarbakir. The reason? The familiar taste, the generous budget meals / takeaways and the friendly service as by now, being a regular, the staff knew us. I have to say, Diyarbakir has a reputation of being very 'local', they mainly feed the locals so they have less traffic in ways of people coming outside the area, as opposed to the other restaurants on Green Lanes e.g. Yayla, Antepliler or Mangal and Mangal II which are more expensive too.
To sum up, a friendly atmosphere, quick and attentive service and great food. There's always Turkish music on that's nor too quiet or too loud, though overall can get noisy at weekends.If you're looking for delicious, authentic Turkish food on a budget in a busy, friendly restaurant, that's open and serving evey day of the week till about 1 AM, I absolutely recommend Diyarbakir.
69 Grand Parade
Tel: 020 8809 2777
No need to book, just pop in!
Thanks for reading.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk