Tas Pide, named after its signature dish, doesn’t let the side down. The portions are enormous, the staff are top-notch, and you can easily get a three-course meal for under £20.
High, wood-beamed ceilings, indoor climbing plants and crisp white table linen all add to the feeling of airy, rustic space. Although the main restaurant area isn’t huge, the tables are nicely spaced, and carved ceiling roses and windowsills full of flowers add to the sense that you’re in a medieval country kitchen. Tucked away on a quiet side street, Tas Pide is perfectly placed for a stroll to the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge or just a nice walk along the Thames.
Tas has always been good at creating a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, and Tas Pide is no exception. The friendly, professional staff welcome you warmly, attend to you promptly at even the busiest times, and never try and rush you out. The live guitar player at one end of the restaurant hits just the right note, both literally and metaphorically. The music is tasteful without being intrusive, and unlike some other live music venues, you don’t have to fight to make yourself heard above the twang.
That said, the sheer popularity of Tas Pide means that at peak times, there is a fairly high level of ambient noise. It’s perfect for mixed groups, friends and celebratory parties - but the atmosphere is more energetic and friendly than intimate and romantic - so it might not be the best place for a quiet, secluded first date.
The choice, affordability and sheer volume of the food on offer is one of Tas Pide’s main draws. Most portions are huge and the quality of the cooking is consistently impressive. The dauntingly large menu also provides a good variety of dishes for vegetarians and the health-conscious. Just be aware that some starters are replicated - on a larger scale - as main meals. Lots of hot and cold starters are on offer for between £3 and £5. These include famous delicacies like rich humus, freshly-prepared dolma (stuffed vine leaves) and kalamari (fried squid) with sweet and sour rose sauce. Main courses range between £6 and £10, and are usually very filling. Pide itself is a traditional Anatolian dish, made of fluffy dough in the shape of a boat, and filled with one of several meat, fish or vegetable fillings with cheese.
Traditionalists might want to plump for the rich and juicy mousakka (lamb, aubergines, potatoes and cheese), while vegetarian options include the delicately flavoured patlican dolmasi (sundried aubergines stuffed with mint, leeks and herbs). If you can fit one in, the traditional desserts on offer are around £4, and include hugely rich baklava. If you’d prefer something slightly lighter, you could try sun-dried figs mixed with creamy milk, or perhaps some apricots with home-made almond and pistachio cream.
There are also plenty of set menu options for those on a tight budget. These include two courses for well under £10, and meze (a mix of ten small dishes) at just over £10 a head for two people or more. Diners are also presented with fresh bread, creamy aromatic dip and olives on arrival at their tables - just don’t spoil your appetite before the real food arrives!
The international wine list, ranging from £12 to £36, has something to suit everyone’s budget and is good if not spectacular. There’s also a good range of hot and cold soft drinks on offer, including an eye-wateringly strong Turkish coffee and aromatic ihlamur (lime tree tea with honey).
The Last Word
Tas Pide is a welcoming, friendly place to eat and one of a handful of restaurants in London where you can still get a high-quality, filling evening meal for under £10. Its popularity is fully justified - just remember to book if you’re visiting at peak time. Your only real problem will be trying to fit in dessert after everything else!