Evin Cafe Bar is a charming and relaxed Turkish cafe and restaurant in the heart of Dalston, offering traditional English and Turkish breakfasts, free Wi-Fi, quick lunches and more leisurely romantic meals later in the day. In Dalston, where Turkish restaurants are ten a penny, Evin stands out thanks to very reasonable prices, friendly staff and a chilled out atmosphere.
Evin has a laid back, homespun kind of feel with Turkish music and wooden tables and chairs, some of which are beautifully carved and topped with red cushions. The restaurant is light and airy, with a skylight in the back. At the front there is a nicely designed bar, with a chilled counter showing off homemade cakes and desserts. At the weekend, the large front window houses two Turkish ladies cooking cheese and spinach gozleme (pancakes) on a traditional stove. Your bill comes in a carved wooden box and there are antiques, such as an ancient cash register, scattered around the place, all of which add a quirky East End feel to the surroundings.
At the weekends Evin is usually full of people reading the paper or surfing the internet. Groups of hungover twentysomethings nurse themselves back to reality with large plates of breakfast and apple tea, whilst groups of older Turkish men drink coffee. The bustle of Kingsland Road can still be heard, but it’s a distant hum in the background. This is very much a local place and the clientele reflect some of the eclectic makeup of Dalston with East London hipsters and Turkish locals frequenting the venue. The staff are incredibly friendly and polite and make the whole experience more enjoyable. This is an unpretentious place where no one will hurry you out the door once you’ve finished your meal, and at night they bring out candles which makes the atmosphere rather romantic.
Evin is exceptional for breakfast, but you can eat here at any time and get great food. Choose from traditional gozleme pancakes with cheese or spinach (£1.50), huge Mediterranean style breakfasts with eggs, honey or garlic sausage for around £8, or plates of well done full English depending on your mood. The menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs with peppers, onion and garlic sausage) comes highly recommended. Evin Cafe Bar has several set lunch menus ranging from £5.95 for meatballs, chicken wings, rice and salad, through to the Personal Special meal consisting of two courses from a selection and a soft drink for £12.45. Crisp feta cheese parcels are perfectly cooked with a light crisp pastry and salty, crumbly feta. Delicious aubergine dip with crusty and warm Turkish bread is creamy with a great smoky kick and there’s plenty for two to share at only £3.50.
Icli kofte, Anatolian spiced balls of minced lamb with a bulgur wheat coating, is filling and delicious with the meat nicely spiced. The minced lamb with baked aubergine is smothered in a rich tomato sauce and is incredibly filling, but plenty of light crisp salad with lots of parsley is a good contrast. Nothing on the menu is more expensive than £12. In the evening, a selection of Turkish side dishes are brought with your main meals, including spicy and sour onions in pomegranate juice. Throughout the day most dishes are served with baskets of delicious Turkish bread.
Evin Cafe Bar is licensed and there are plenty of wines to choose from. There are also liquors and spirits available but this isn’t really an alcohol orientated place. Turkish apple tea and great coffee stand out as worthy of note and goes great with the breakfasts.
The Last Word
Evin Cafe Bar is a fantastically popular with local people and is highly recommended for a visit if you’re in the area. Whether you have a bad headache from too much partying, you’re looking for a nice spot to have some lunch or if you want to take someone out for a cheap delicious Turkish meal, Evin caters for it all.