Melis, the first ever Turkish restaurant – to my knowledge – in Milton Keynes had been on my agenda for a while. As a Turk living abroad, it is quite common to hanker for a taste of home every now and again. Imagine the fresh mezes with olive oil, chargrilled lamb, served with oven-baked Turkish bread…
Finding the weather clement last Sunday, I dragged hubby in the general direction of Midsummer Boulevard – the first beauty of Melis Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant, so central to MK cornerstones that you do not even need an address to find your way there, and once you’re in the vicinity, forget Google Maps altogether and be led by your nose. Like any self-respecting Turkish grill, if your clientele are not directed by the smell of freshly grilled meat, then you’re not doing something right. As for Melis, so far, so right.
The interior is light and airy – a bit too light perhaps with the spotlights illuminating the restaurant floor from all angles. The venue is spacious, with dark wooden tables seating parties of two or four scattered across the floor with cosier booths lining the walls, Turkish “kilim” draped over the seats, and multi-coloured tea light holders on the tables and hanging from the crisp white walls to give the place an authentic touch.
We state our meal with complimentary Turkish pide bread served with little pots of humus, chilli sauce and what I hope is tzatziki but soon discover is mayonnaise with herbs. Who serves mayonnaise with Turkish bread? Is the question that immediately comes to mind as I desperately try to cleanse my horrified palate with humus. Thank goodness, the services is fast, the starters arrive.
We order the hot meze platter which comprises 3 rools of borek – savoury pastry made with feta cheese and spinach, falafel, grilled sucuk (Turkish sausage) and grilled halloumi. Delightful if not for the pile of salad in the middle of the platter that neither one of us is keen to touch.
We mull over the menus for a while to make our main selection – while perhaps not as rich as the menus of some of North London’s leading Turkish restaurant, with a selection of pides (Turkish flatbread), grills and vegetarian options, Melis offers wide enough a selection to make you consider carefully your choice lest you get food envy. Ultimately, it can’t be helped as hubby is already eyeing up the grill dish ordered by the next table. Luckily our mains arrive soon. Despite a small mix-up with hubby’s order, it is quickly and efficiently resolved with his dish of choice served within minutes.
The portions are generous – hubby who had ordered mixed grill gets around eight pieces of meat – a selection from chicken wings to Adana kebab yet can’t help but order an extra portion of rice. I dig into my Kuzu Beyti – minced lamb wrapped in lavash bread with cheese, topped with tomato sauce, drizzled in butter and served with yoghurt. It may sound like a heart attack waiting to happen, but it tastes heavenly, and yet again so generous is the portion by the end, I am positively full.
We get asked if all is well at least around four times by four different waiters during just the 15 minutes of dinner, so much so that hubby comments on the fact that they may be overpaid; nowhere in Milton Keynes have I ever seen such friendly and attentive staff. As if on cue, out they come again with a birthday desert and sing “Happy Birthday’ for a celebrant at a nearby table.
Of course, you can’t visit a Turkish restaurant without sampling the Turkish coffee or an authentic desert. I decide to forget about the diet for just one night and opt for both. Unfortunately for us, there is no Sutlac or Kadayif left, so I settle for Kunefe – perhaps the only let-down of a generally positive dining experience; it takes a good 20minutes to arrive, and overly sweet, I doubt if it was worth the wait and go back to my coffee. After all, as we say in Turkish, one cup of coffee will be remembered for 40 years.”
To see the menu or book a table visit Melis Restaurant