3 Park Road,
(09) 307 3449
The ViewAuckland Review
4 out of 5 stars
Walk around any corner in Auckland, and you'll probably run into a kebab place, but finding a wider range of Turkish food is sometimes not easy. Cafe Karadeniz (it means "Black Sea") is tucked away at the end of Grafton Bridge near Auckland Hospital, and it's always surprised me how this excellent place never gets the attraction it deserves.
I've been lucky enough to travel to Istanbul several times, and trust me when I say that friendly owner Semih turns out some of the tastiest and most authentic Turkish food this side of a late afternoon sunset on the Bosphorus.
The Karadeniz formula is simple. A few vintage B/W photographs of old Istanbul decorate the cosy wooden interior, and more recent colour shots of Turkey's cobalt waters bring back memories of lazy days around the country's southern coast.
We start with a meze platter for two ($19.50), and as well as the expected range of dips like hummus and taramasalata, there's also goodies like mantar dolma (stuffed mushrooms) and sigara borek, long deep fried "cigars" made of filo pastry, feta cheese and pastry. The good value platter even includes tasty fasulye (tasty green beans) and zingy beetroot dip.
Conversation with Semih turns to the Turkish pop music on the stereo, and he takes our question if he knows of "Tarkan" (kind of like a Turkish George Michael), as a request. Very soon, one of least favourite Turkish memories is coursing through the restaurant, but it's actually a nice touch, adding another layer of authenticity to the meal.
In reality, the meze platter has almost filled us up, but that doesn't stop us from demolishing our mains. Carol's chicken moussaka ($16) - did I mention that Karadeniz also does a few Greek dishes and pizza - is rich and creamy, and mesclun salad and plain rice adds a simpler contrast. I partner a Turkish Efes Pilsner with an Iskender kebab ($15) laced with yoghurt and chilli sauce. A few local beers are also on offer, along with a small selection of wine and the convenience of a BYO licence.
The combination of meze and mains means we've definitely got no room for dessert, but past experience has always meant a tough decision between baklava and Semih's selection of freshly baked cakes.
I guess well-cooked and simple Turkish food just isn't trendy enough to merit more media attention, but in a perfect world Cafe Karadeniz would be a hidden favourite known and enjoyed by lots more Aucklanders.
Cafe Karadeniz has been reviewed by 2 users