For authentic, good-value Turkish cuisine in a friendly and vibrant atmosphere, you can’t do better than Tas in London Bridge.
Tas has a distinct Turkish feel, which blends Middle Eastern flare and Mediterranean simplicity, much like the country itself. You are met by staff at reception and a large ground floor of exotic beiges, creams and golds. Downstairs is even bigger and offers no-nonsense taverna-style simplicity, with clean white walls and white-linen tables. Despite the bustle you immediately feel you’re somewhere special, with smartly turned-out waiters, loads of space between tables and comfortable seating. You can also see and hear a little of the kitchen action which adds to the experience.
This restaurant gets busy but don’t let that put you off. It’s bustling and friendly, drawing in a crowd of locals, tourists and foodies alike. Staff are helpful, efficient knowledgeable about the food they’re serving, which all adds to the experience. In a restaurant of this size and price range, you could well expect less effort, but Tas endeavours to be a cut above, which may well explain its popularity.
In short, Tas serves quality Turkish cuisine at good-value prices. If you are unfamiliar with Turkish food, it’s well worth investigating, running an enticing fine line between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours. The menu has lots to choose from including, soups, cold and hot starters, salads, grills, casseroles fish and a range of unique desserts. To start, the simple red lentil soup (£3.65) is hearty and delicately spiced while hummus (£3.85) is creamy, moreish and served with warm pita bread. Zeytin Yagli Dolma (£4.15), stuffed vine leaves, is a satisfying rendition of a classic, the leaves filled with moist rice and pine nuts which add subtle kick.
For mains, grills are a good way to get a taste of real Turkey. Try the Kofte (£8.25), which comprises minced lamb, onion, paprika and peppers. Simple yet delicious, it’s succulent and wonderfully spiced, and served on a bed of moist couscous. The Karisik Izgara (£9.65), or mixed grill is also great – and do not expect kebab-shop fare. Featuring a mix of lamb and chicken, it is again beautifully cooked on a proper shish grill and full of underrated flavour. The casseroles are also indigenous specialities. A good bet is a Choban Kavurma (£9.25), a warming blend of tender diced lamb and tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and peppers.
For dessert there are a host of Turkish delicacies to sample. Try the Kayisi Tatlisi (£3.85), a sweet and surprisingly different blend of sun-dried apricots with home-made cream, almond and pistachio. There’s also Kazandibi (£3.55), perhaps the Turkish equivalent of the Mediterranean flan. Literally translated as upside-down milk pudding, it features the unique twists of mazaki pine resin, rose-water and lemon rind for a subtle and moreish flavour. Top it all off with some traditional Turkish coffee (£2.25) which is thick, rich and strong – a welcome alternative to the usual meal-postscripts of espresso and cappuccino.
There’s has a reasonable wine list. For white try the Turkish house Nevsheir (£12.45), a dry and citrusy blend that works well with red meat. There is also a choice of mid-range tipples sourced from all over the world, with the Italian Pinot Grigio, Grave Del Friuli (£17.35) a stand out. Reds are strong in selection too, with the house Anatolia (£12.95), again from Turkey, a spicy treat, and the Pinot Noir Aimery (£16.75) a definite stand-out. With a good range of bottled beers, all tastes are adequately catered for.
The Last Word
Tas in London Bridge isn’t unique – there are five other outlets dotted around South East, East and Central London – yet eating here feels effortlessly special. This restaurant lays on an authentic taste of Turkey at price that’s fair. What’s more the staff are friendly and the atmosphere buzzing – perfect for a night out with friends. This is a rare instance where chain apathy has not set in, and the quality of food and service remains unequivocally high – well worth the visit.