I hate picking where to have dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love to visit restaurants and appreciate good food, but actually deciding where to eat is the worst part of the whole experience.
It’s a very first-world problem. On this particular evening, my boyfriend and I had planned a nice meal out to celebrate being on holiday, but less than five hours before, I still couldn’t make up my mind where to go.
I didn’t feel like Italian food, which seems to rule out most restaurants in Aberdeen. I also didn’t want an Indian or Chinese meal. Generally, I prefer to eat these sitting in my pyjamas in front of the TV.
Then Google came up trumps, suggesting a small Turkish restaurant just five minutes from my front door –Rendezvous @ Nargile.
Despite walking past it several times a week, I’d never visited.
So that evening, I was pleased to see a couple of tables still available as we walked in and were shown to a spot by the window.
Situated on Forest Avenue in Aberdeen’s west end, we had a pleasant view of the restaurant’s summer terrace (which was taking a beating by the wind when we visited).
Instead of starters, the menu begins with a big selection of hot and cold meze.
As a pescatarian, it was a thrill to see so many vegetarian options – usually, there are only one, maybe two choices for non-meat eaters in restaurants.
Unable to decide what to have (this seems to be a common theme), I suggested we pick a selection and share. Thankfully, my boyfriend agreed.
Borek (fried filo pastry rolls stuffed with spinach and feta) arrived first, along with Hellim Teva – slices of halloumi cheese lightly fried in chilli oil. A generous dish of thick tzatziki and a plate of warm pitta bread also quickly arrived on the table, along with a portion of calamari.
Everything was delicious, and I enjoyed dipping the spinach rolls into the garlicky tzatziki. That’s probably sacrilege in Turkey but I can assure you it was worth it.
To wash it all down, my boyfriend was knocking back a large bottle of Efes Turkish lager while I enjoyed a large glass of Rioja.
The great veggie and fish options continued into the main course section and it took me ages to choose what I would like.
Iskender, a dish of chopped pitta and garlic with courgette, halloumi and red pepper, was a close contender, as was Firinda Karisik Balik – oven-roasted monkfish with an olive sauce.
I settled on Patlican Kizartma, which is lightly fried slices of aubergine covered with yoghurt, feta cheese and a roasted red pepper sauce.
My boyfriend picked Geyik Antrecot Izgara – escalopes of venison served with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes and a rich brandy and red currant jus.
Normally, you only see venison in thick chunky pieces either served on their own or in a stew, so these thin, tender pieces of meat were quite different to the norm.
Both dishes were extremely tasty and came with plenty of sauce. The venison in particular was soft and tender.
They were also generous servings and I couldn’t quite finish my plate.
The waitress was attentive and smiled when I asked for a small break before considering dessert – I guessed this must happen often.
Eventually though, we ordered some baklava. It just didn’t feel right to visit a Turkish restaurant without sampling it.
Three squares of sticky, sweet filo pastry arrived with a big scoop of ice cream and suddenly I found I had more room in my stomach than I’d thought.
There were two flavours, chocolate and walnut, and both were flaky, chewy and slightly sickly in the way that only the best baklava are.
We lingered over the sweets, scraping every last bit of syrup off the plate.
I finished with a cup of fresh mint tea. It isn’t really “tea” at all but a handful of fresh mint leaves that have boiling water poured over them to release their flavour, and then sweetened slightly with honey.
It was a big thing in Europe when I lived in the Netherlands but you almost never see it in the UK, so I was pleased to spot it on the menu.
My boyfriend scoffed at my mug of leaves from behind his own tiny espresso cup. Though I assume I got the last laugh when I slept like a baby and he was full of caffeine.
Outside it was still blowing a gale, but that wasn’t the only reason we didn’t want to leave.
The restaurant was warm and welcoming. Even though most tables were occupied, we didn’t feel rushed to finish.
Eventually of course, we did.
And as I turned around when we were back out on the street, Rendezvous @ Nargile seemed like a glowing oasis in a stormy night.
Phillipa Gerrard is the joint head of Environment and Transport and is a staff reviewer.
Address: Rendezvous @ Nargile, 106–108 Forest Avenue, Aberdeen, AB15 4UP
T: 01224 323700
Price: £93.05 for two courses for two people, one dessert, coffee, wine and beer
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 3/5