This Turkish restaurant is just like a small oasis in the heart of Bloomsbury, a great place to enjoy good food in leafy surroundings.
Walking down Great Russell Street, this Tas is unmissable; luxuriant foliage adorns the outdoor area and is a promising clue that the food is just as delightful. The decorating style changes altogether indoors and might leave you a bit baffled. High ceilings and wide walls, coloured in pastel tones, make the rooms very airy but also a bit hotel-style. The questionable decor of the indoor area obviously lacks the greenery the outdoor has, so if the weather allows do try to get a table outside - it will be worth it.
The place is bustling with tourists and families. Indoors is quite noisy and the seating outside, overlooking right on one of the busiest streets in the area, can be just as loud; still, eating at the small wooden tables among trees and flowers will make you soon forget about the traffic. The service is fast and efficient, even though not as smiley and chatty as chain restaurants now often are.
Shortly after getting the menu the waiter brings on complimentary olives, bread and a yoghurt and dill dip. The menu is divided in sections and a good share is dedicated to vegetarian dishes. Prices are very reasonable, especially for this area, e.g £6 for pasta, £10 for casseroles, £12 for a sirloin steak. They also have set menus and a lunchtime offer which will get you two courses for £8.95.
Among the starters, the ispanakli spinach is a sour yet smooth mix of chopped spinach in a creamy yoghurt sauce with garlic; the red lentil soup is simple and filling with just a hint of spice. As a main course, the chicken shish comes with couscous and is beautifully presented. The yellow couscous is topped by shredded red cabbage and the chicken, tender and juicy because it’s slow-cooked on a skewer, looks and tastes delicious.
The house red is fairly decent, light and spicy. It is a shame that the wine list is not very daring; other than the two Turkish house wines, it mainly draws from familiar Italian and French wines. Wines start at about £13 and there are several options available by the glass. There’s a good selection of liqueurs and, of course, raki on the list.
The Last Word
Tas Bloomsbury is very different, in a positive way, from other restaurants in the area and from chain outposts. Dishes are above average for taste and presentation, the price is absolutely convenient, and if you get to dine outside it will truly be a Turkish delight.