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Ephesus - restaurant review

Kebabs at Liverpool's latest Turkish fail to sizzle for Christina McDermott

Written by . Published on May 31st 2011.


Ephesus - restaurant review

WHEN done right, there is something truly wonderful about a kebab. That conglomeration of delicious charcoal-seared meat shoved into a pitta bread fresh off the grill and piled high with salad and tart yoghurt sauce...I can never say no to one.

The Turks are arguably masters of the genre. But while Liverpool may be swarming in chippies serving up large portions of sweaty donner, we appear to be curiously lacking in decent Turkish restaurants.

Ephesus, which has recently opened in the Baltic Quarter on the site of what was formerly The Orchard, appears to be an attempt to plug that gap.

Instead of something suitably
traditional, we were greeted by
the sounds of a syrupy crooner
massacring Frank Sinatra tunes to
a Casio keyboard accompaniment

With its website promising belly dancers, an enormous barbecue pit and a menu full of Mediterranean delicacies, you could be forgiven for expecting to feast like a king in a palace full of glittering delights.

Unfortunately, the reality is a little different.

Mezze platter.JPGFirst, there's the location. Situated in the middle of an out-of-the-way industrial site, Ephesus is unlikely to pick up any passing trade, unless it's from people out hunting for somewhere they can eat their dinner while staring out of the window at a brick wall. When we walked through the door, the place was dead, bar one couple hidden away in the corner and a group of women with a screaming toddler in tow.

Then there was the “atmospheric” music. Instead of something suitably traditional, we were greeted by the sounds of a syrupy crooner massacring Frank Sinatra tunes to a Casio keyboard accompaniment.

One of our menus was missing the page detailing the main courses, and, once we'd placed our order, I was informed that my choice of main was unavailable. I'd not even taken a swig of my drink and I was already starting to think that I'd made a terrible mistake.

Thankfully, just as I was having second thoughts about the whole endeavour, our starter arrived – a large plate of mixed hot and cold mezze (£15.95 for two), piled high with dips and pitta bread. Each element was sensational, although the standout items were the insanely addictive garlic and paprika-spiked smoked sausage, borek – filo pastry parcels filled with spinach and feta cheese, mitre kofte – perfectly seasoned meatballs swimming in a tomato sauce, and the Patlican salatasi – roasted aubergine with tahini, garlic, fresh lemon and yoghurt. I ate an entire bowl of this in one fell swoop, only pausing to pick up more pitta bread.

On a mezze-fuelled high, I was willing to forgive Ephesus its minor flaws – after all, who needs decent tunes or a nice view in a restaurant when you're busy filling your belly with grade-A hummus?

Then came the main courses. It would be incorrect to say that they were bad, more just deeply underwhelming.

Chilli Chicken.JPGWe had both ordered from the kebab menu, presuming that our mains would be served up in clouds of charcoal smoke courtesy of the grill situated in the basement. What we received was slightly more prosaic.

My Izgara kofte (spiced minced lamb, £10.95) - plonked on some watery long grain rice - was under seasoned and limp. 

The boyfriend's Acili Tavuk sis (grilled chilli chicken, £12.95) was slightly more appetising, even if it was less piquant than a packet of spicy NikNaks. 

The less said about the desserts, the better. Turkey is a country famed for its delicious pastries, so it seems a shame that, instead of more traditional fare such as baklava, the kitchen here was content to serve freezer-burned ice cream topped with squirty cream (£4.80) or hard profiteroles drizzled half-heartedly with a cheap tasting chocolate sauce (£5.50). All followed by burnt, cold espressos.

When a restaurant isn't situated somewhere obvious, it has to offer something special to pull people in. For Ephesus, their food - on this evidence - isn't it.

It's not the cheapest place for a meal out either – at £70.00 for two people (with alcohol), it won't break the bank, but you'd be very hard pressed to call it good value.

Throughout the course of my meal, I got the feeling that if this restaurant were situated in a cosy suburb, then it would do okay. However, with the variety and quality of Liverpool’s city centre restaurants improving at a near-exponential rate, Ephesus will really have to up its game if it wants to make its mark.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a halfway decent kebab, I suggest you keep looking.

 

Profiteroles.JPGVenues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect.

Liverpool Confidential critics dine unannounced and we pick up their bills - not the restaurant, not a PR company.

Rating:10/20
Breakdown:4/10 food
3.5/5 service
2.5/5 ambience
Address:

Ephesus
57 Blundell Street,
Liverpool, L1 0JA

0151 709 3060 

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Prof ChucklebuttyMay 31st 2011.

I now know not to make a fuss at what Ephesus offers us.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 31st 2011.

how do you know that there offers may not be because they have recently opened and they are trying to advertise and inform their business, I know the owners of Ephesus and I have fill trust and belief in them that they are going to manage it, I also reccomend you to taste before you judge

Stephen FaragherJune 5th 2011.

we went on one of those Groupon voucher things a few months ago, I'm a frequent visitor to Turkey, making a series of videos in Turkish kitchens when over there and sometimes even have a go at making the stuff myself, and although we were supposed to be getting an expensive meal cheaper we didnt, it was fairly average, although the entertainment (belly dancer, congaing in fez etc) was reasonably enjoyable in a drunken Pontins sort of way. There is a real opportunity for someone to open a good not too expensive Turkish Grill Restaurant,
but as you say this isnt it. If it was exceptional the out of the way location wouldnt matter, word of mouth would ensure a steady flow of people, in the meantime if you'd like to get the ingredients, then try the L7 Village Market on Prescot, a supermarket part run by a family of Turks (Mr Aslan) fantastic range of fresh fruit veg and all the bits you'd need to make your own turkish meals, they have their own bakery (fresh turkish bread), butcher (the meat is terrific) and then there's the sweets counter (try the furun sutlac and the vast range of baclava!!!!!)

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 21st 2011.

sounds a bit like Turkish Christakis! I'm a traditionalist too as far as turkish food is concerned so definitely won't be going here!

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