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My Name is Red (Mezze)
Red Mezze (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Red Mezze (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Date: 16/02/11, updated on 17/02/11 (109 review reads)
Advantages: Varied and interesting menu of tasty well priced Turkish food
Disadvantages: Possibly some access issues for wheelchair users
I recently made my third visit to Newcastle's "Red Mezze" a medium sized Turkish restaurant situated in the shadow of St. James Park; my other visits had been for lunch, this was my first evening visit. Although I had really enjoyed the lunches I had at Red Mezze, it had taken a long time to get round to having an evening meal there and it was actually a Groupon offer that prompted me to go back; the voucher cost me £6, which then entitled me to £20 of food, with some restrictions although these turned out to be fairly minor ones and I did not feel like I was missing out at all.
The conditions of the offer stated that I had to book in advance and the staff member I spoke to on the telephone was friendly and seemed capable; when we arrived, we saw that our booking had been noted in the book. The restaurant was very busy for a Wednesday evening and we soon realised that many of the customers were also taking advantage of the Groupon offer. We were shown to a table for four and were glad to have the extra space because the tables are quite close together.
The interior looks as good today as when the restaurant first opened a couple of years ago. The walls are painted a slightly muted but still quite vibrant red and covered in nicely framed photographs of scenes from Istanbul and other famous landmarks in Turkey. A fairly large wall mounted plasma screen television was showing football and though we couldn't see it directly from our table, we could see it reflected in a mirror or some glass and I thought it was an unnecessary feature.
We were presented with menus but no drinks were offered at this point which was perhaps a mistake on the part of Red Mezze as you might expect that, considering they are cutting the food bill, they would be encouraging you to spend on drinks, where restaurants make the most money. The terms of the Groupon offer meant that we couldn't have fish dishes, or any of the mixed grill dishes; there was still plenty to choose from, including a good range of vegetarian options so, although we would both have considered fish mains, we didn't mind not being able to choose one. Since the main courses are very reasonably priced - and also because we both love Turkish food - we decided to have starters; we knew already that the main courses at Red Mezze are generous without being too challenging to finish, so we were confident that we would be unlikely to regret having starters.
The starters are helpfully divided into hot and cold options and there are plenty to choose from, so many in fact that I must have changed my mind half a dozen times before the waiter came to take the order. In the end I picked the broad beans which are served salad style with a piquant tomato and herb dressing and some warm pitta bread. Himself chose the sucuk, a spicy Turkish sausage which was served quite simply having been fried or grilled and sliced down the middle, and plced next to a small heap of salad garnish. It oozed red oil and appeared to contain a generous addition of paprika. Personally I wasn't sold on the texture which reminded me of meat free hotdogs but the flavour was excellent and not for the faint-hearted. My broad beans were excellent; they were served with the thicker outer skin on and were tossed in a sharp dressing that was studded with slivers of scarlet chilli pepper. The dish contained plenty of fresh chopped herbs which pleased me as I hate to see meagre sprinklings of herbs (something that I see too often).
For my main course I had chosen the patlican kebab (£8.95). This is a dish I have had several times before in Turkish restaurants, most memorably in a very basic eatery in the city of Trabzon in eastern Turkey when I could have married the chef so delicious was the kebab; this one would have to be good to match up. "Patlican" means aubergine in Turkish and this kebab is a skewered one which alternates little balls of minced lamb with thick slices of aubergine. This one wasn't bad but was not as good as others I've had, and had I been eating it for the first time I'd probably have been happy. However, I did find the slices of aubergine a bit mean and they didn't have the rich, smokey taste that I've enjoyed before. The pieces of aubergine were also a little too oily. The lamb, however, was juicy, tender and nicely spiced. It was served, as most main courses at Red Mezze are, with a small hillock of wild rice, a tasty tomato relish, a heap of well dressed crunchy salad and a chargrilled tomato. The salad was very good, mainly because of the tangy, sweet-sour dressing; it took me a while to place the distinctive flavour but after a couple of minutes it came to me - raspberry vinegar! (At least I think it was!)
Himself, after much mental anguish for he wanted to try everything on the menu, chose the lamb shish (£8.75) which turned out to be a good, if not very original choice (I had been hoping he would try one of the dishes that are cooked in clay pots). The pieces of lamb were generous and well cooked; the flavour was delicious and the marinade had not overpowered the natural taste of the lamb. Red Mezze claim to use only the best cuts of lamb and chicken and the lamb certainly was excellent.
We had chosen a bottle of the house red to drink and at just £11 for a very drinkable French wine we were happy with our choice. I was particularly impressed with the way the waiter made sure every last drop was poured before he took the bottle away.
As I suffer from a nut allergy, not be able to enjoy Turkish desserts (which are almost always covered in chopped nuts) is a source of continued disappointment for me but a Turkish coffee was an accpetable alternative.
Now that I have been reminded how much I like Red Mezze I won't leave it so long before I go back. The prices for evening meals are excellent but the restaurant also offers a two course lunch (served until 4pm) for just £6.95 (those broad beans are included in the starters) and a selection of delicious wraps (including some excellent veggie options) from just £3.95.
The restaurant is partly wheelchair accessible as there are some tables on the entrance level but the majority of the tables are a couple of steps downstairs. I am not sure whether there is a wheelchair accessible toilet as the customer toilets are on the first floor. It may be worth contacting the restaurant in advance to check, if this is a requirement for you.
34-36 Leazes Park Road
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tel : 0191 261 9646
Summary: Excellent Turkish restaurant in Newcastle upon Tyne