A Culinary Journey to Turkey

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Adliya’s Block 338 has added a new upscale restaurant to its lineup – Gunaydin. Liz O’Reilly had the chance to dine at this unique Turkish eatery for a trendy experience.

Adliya’s Block 338 has long been the island’s most famed dining area and, while other prime foodie spots are beginning to crop up around the Kingdom, Block 338 retains its crown with a slew of new fine-dining venues.

One such newcomer is the Turkish restaurant Gunaydin which, since its recent launch, has quickly carved its own niche. So, anticipation was high in the office when we were invited to sample the menu.

And that excitement was not misplaced. We were shown to the chic smoking area for dining, though there is a very large non-smoking area too, and I was immediately impressed with the décor. An antiqued glass mirrored wall, really funky spider lights, midcentury modern leather sofa seating areas with complementary deep teal upholstery on the velvet chairs. All came together to create a feeling of nostalgia mixed with elegance. A green and gold theme meets with industrial-style ceilings.

The walls are deceptive – think the dress that divided the internet – to me, up close, they appear pale turquoise and gold but from a distance they reflect the greenpainted surfaces and appear verdigris. The gold-tiled bar area is impressive with gold coloured hanging pendant lights and even the black and grey, heavy ceramic plates are made in Turkey. Virtually all the staff, from manager to chefs, are also Turkish, so, you know you’re in for a totally authentic dining experience.

Gunaydin’s mezze menu is truly impressive. With numerous items, you’re sure to find something to please every palate. We were presented with a huge selection, including Atom, which is sun-dried spicy Turkish chilli with butter sauce on garlic and eggplant-infused strained yoghurt. This was an immediate hit with one of my colleagues. Initially cool and flavoursome leading into an intense chilli tang, it left a satisfying heat in the mouth.

Vine leaves were stuffed with rice and seasoning but the addition of blackcurrants gave an interesting variation, something unexpected that you have to savour and, perhaps, inquire about if, like me, you really love to know what has piqued your taste buds. I particularly loved the Panço, fried potatoes with eggplant, yoghurt and garlic. Bathed in the creamy yoghurt, I had not expected this dish to be so impressive but the smoky flavour of the eggplant combined with a generous hit of garlic made this one of my favourites.

Acili Ezmes is a spicy tomato dip with pepper and onions that just begged for the freshly baked Turkish bread that made a show-style entrance as a whole, puffy, oven-expanded loaf, ready to be chopped up at our table. And a special mention must go to the Tulum cheese. A creamy, salty goat’s milk cheese that is ripened in a goatskin casing. It was a first for me and the melt-on-the-tongue texture coupled with the unique flavour made a huge and positive impression.

Truly, we could have whiled away the afternoon feasting on the whole range of mezze. There were enough delicious eggplant and tomato combinations, not to mention an outstanding hummus, to keep us happy for several hours, along with that heavenly bread. But knowing there was much more to come. We decided to reign in our appetites and see what would arrive next.

We were glad we did as we were soon facing a light, fluffy Kibbeh, its centre perfectly infused with flavour and a dusting of green pistachio, as well as stuffed sundried eggplant and a selection of salads whose presentation was truly Insta perfect. The star presentation was the Gunaydin Beef Lokum fillet. Totally fat free, high-quality steak, grilled to absolute perfection. The flesh literally melted on the tongue with a slightly gamey aftertaste that left us wanting more. The Alinazik Kebab was a pleasant surprise. I’m not usually a fan of kebabs, finding them a bit greasy, but this was moist and juicy, rather than greasy, an indication of the quality of the ground lamb used. Served on eggplant liberally infused with yoghurt and garlic, it’s an interesting and immensely comforting mix of flavours with a great texture.

And Abana Kebab is beautifully presented on a zig zagged-carved pitta base. The meat is spicy prepared with special, traditional Turkish seasoning with roasted chillis (beware, these are hot!), onion salad and grilled tomatoes. Super tasty, I loved it along with the Patatas Tava, piping hot and crispy paprika fries. We brought our feast to a close with a selection of desserts of which the Cheese Kunafa was the outright winner. The warm cheese pulled away in perfect strings from the crunchy vermicelli which was doused liberally in sweet super syrup. It was accompanied by Turkish ice cream which, if you’ve never had it, is a must try. Not too sweet and devilishly creamy, it was a triumph.

For more information or to make a reservation, please call Gunaydin on 1700 0099.

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