A good showing at last week’s British Kebab Awards was more than enough reason for me to make my first visit in some time to the popular little Turkish restaurant in Stamford, The Mad Turk.
Not just a finalist in the best regional kebab restaurant, the place actually finished runner-up and “highly recommended.”
It is of course a bit of a misnomer - the restaurant run by husband and wife team Kaz and Shelly does much more than kebabs, and has built up quite a reputation for cooking traditional, rustic Turkish Cypriot food.
And it is well deserved.
The place itself is tucked away between shops on St Paul’s Street, and with the fair in town even more hidden away. It is pretty from the outside and inside rustic - tiled floor, bare walls painted a nice stoney grey with the odd Turkish rug and some modern wall lighting, although it is quite dark.
Downstairs is small but not cramped.
There is plenty of great, familiar grilled meat dishes on the main menu - kofte, shish, lamb cutlets - but to get a wider range of dishes I ordered the mixed mezze (for two) - a selection of 10 dishes for £19.
I am no stranger to mezze and recognised pretty much everything on offer.
The halloumi was particularly good, so too the deep fried breaded king prawns.
I am a big fan of patlican (a smoked aubergines dish) and this was right up there with the best - soft, smooth, sweet and garlicy.
A new one on me, an ever so tasty braised leek dish awas bsolutely packed with flavour. The bread was warm and soft, perfect for mopping up all the lovely juices and the cacic - fresh tasting yogurt with a great cucumber flavour running through it.
The only disappointment was the borek - long, rolled filo pastry creations that weren’t cheesy enough inside for me. That said, a relaxed lunch in a friendly, welcoming venue.
Brad Barnes dines at The Mad Turk, St Paul’s Street, Stamford 01780 238001 www.themadturk.co.uk