For date night this week we ventured to North West London to Turkish restaurant Ishtah in Finchley.
11 Hendon Ln, London N3 1RT
London isn’t short of Turkish restaurants, especially in the North. So when we headed to the Hendon Lane addition in Finchley, our expectations were bursting at the seams. What could this Turkish establishment offer that we weren’t getting a fix of elsewhere?
First of all, class. Arriving on a lazy Tuesday evening, we were welcomed into the quiet but cosy restaurant. The warming oranges and yellows that lit up the wines stacked on the back wall reflected the contemporary yet traditional feel of the restaurant and the food. The relaxing vibe after a hectic day in the office made us wonder if ‘Turkish food Tuesday’ could be a thing every week.
While browsing the menu, we were served with some delicious Turkish breads and chilli dip, which we kept nibbling on throughout the meal. The menu mixes it up between hot and cold dishes, and meat and meat-free options. We were pleasantly surprised at the vegetarian selection beyond the classic hummus and falafel offerings. For starters, we ordered a selection of hot and cold meze. We opted for the beetroot delight: a sweet and tangy salad balanced out with lumps of feta cheese. This was joined by a pan-fried mushroom and halloumi dish, flavoured with spices and garlic and only described as awesome.
The mains were a wide selection of classic and contemporary Turkish dishes. The house specials: meat moussaka, incik — a traditional braised lamb shank, and imam bayilidi — an oven-baked chicken and aubergine dish. If you’re a newcomer to Turkish cuisine, a house special is a great place to start: sample some traditional Turkish and discover what Ishtah does best.
Tough decisions had to be made when it came to choosing our mains and the mixed seafood shish was the best shout for the Miss Indecisive over here. A bulky portion of tuna, salmon and halibut was the succulent and satisfying seafood dish set before me with the freshest seafood and accompanied by the most colourful and crunchy salad I’ve seen in a long time. My pal opted for lamb cutlets, something she’s often reluctant to order because it risks being fatty and greasy. The server assured us it wouldn’t be and safe to say she’ll be returning soon for more mains from the grill.
Booze-wise, we went for a bottle of Argentinian Malbec, which had a very deep and sweet flavour. The staff weren’t the most knowledgable about the wines, which is forgivable as we were confident enough to choose something to complement our food choices. Ishtah also offer a classic cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails, which we imagine are great aperitifs, though didn’t sample.
Having bounced back after their refurb, Ishtah are cooking up Turkish food at the top of its game, and is topping our list in terms of North London nosh.
Dress the evening: Navy wrapped shirt dress, Jill Sander (FarFetch), Pom pom scarf, Charlotte Simone (FarFetch), teamed with Yasmin Nappa Leather Tote, Vivienne Westwood (Flannels), Superstar Shoes, Rogue Matilda (Trouva), and Bordeaux Lust nail polish, Tom Ford Beauty (Net-A-Porter),
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