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Restaurant review: Blue Lagoon, Lark Lane

One night in Istanbul is not enough for Angie Sammons

Written by . Published on December 13th 2013.


Restaurant review: Blue Lagoon, Lark Lane
 

A CHAP I've known since our teenage years was on what appeared to be a first date when I walked into Blue Lagoon.

Boyish and coyish and quite unlike anything I had noted in him back then, it was his demeanour that gave it away.

Seated at an intimately configured table a deux, in this otherwise empty restaurant, he listened attentively to his lady friend, nodding vigorously and smiling –  flinching, oh so inconspicuously, when I bowled through the door.

And I would not have mentioned any of this but for the waiter who chose to lead me to the nearest table to theirs. It was all of three feet away, a squid's breath – not something you need on any meaningful rendezvous.

Blue Lagoon Lark Lane 1Initial reluctance to accept the place was defeated, I am afraid, by the bad pixie, on my shoulder, who wanted to stick around.

As I would be alone for the next 20 minutes I had a choice: play gooseberry fool and elbow my way into their conversation, or get lost in the ample folds of my phone.

Smartphones are good for this and have transformed the life of the solitary bon viveur – and especially his female counterpart - in awkward public situations. You can “check in” on Facebook – if you don't mind your online stalker suddenly bursting in for a chatette – and you can look the place up on Twitter. This I did, to discover that Blue Lagoon has little in the way of internet presence - or what a twat might call “social media strategy”.

1-Blue Lagoon Lark Lane %281%29This is as refreshing as the Efes beer with which to appreciate the simple décor - Mediterranean olive and cream walls and brilliant blue tablecloths and a big map of the old country. A rustic Turkish roof canopy over a glowing pit of coals, why not.



Such barbecues are nothing new: a similar set-up has been smouldering successfully down the Lane, at Elif, for some years. But there is clearly room for more.



“Forget Elif, you must try the Blue Lagoon,” my friend had urged, the one who finally arrived just as I was about to furtively tweet a picture of my very good olives to see how many followers I could jettison.

1-Blue Lagoon Lark Lane %2813%29How to lose Twitter followersThe premises Blue Lagoon rents used to sell rifles and guns to simple, decent folk who liked to shoot things on sunny days. Now is the sort of restaurant every neighbourhood could do with in its little black directory.

Simple, decent, sunny days food, easy on the eye and the school/work-night wallet. A family night out, a catch-up without the big noise of town – or, like our friend at the next table, handy if you plan to show someone your etchings, just around the corner, after the baklava.



Garlicky, sharp hummus (£3.90) and fresh, warm pitta was exactly the sort of bit to chomp at to settle the nerves. Or maybe that was down to the chilled Turkish Ancyra, a Muscat as fruity and dry as a night out with Barbara Cartland.

1-Blue Lagoon Lark Lane %283%29 %281024X683%29Chicken SouvlakiThere was little remarkable about Borek (£3.90), every inch a spring roll but stuffed with feta cheese and parsley, or Chicken Souvlaki (£3.90), two bite-sized skewers of meat cooked on coals.

In the often limited repertoire of street food, globally, one Turk's souvlaki is another Japanese guy's yakitori and here with a splodge of creamy caciki (tzaziki to you and Sainsbury's) and pitta, you are invited to roll your own. But whether in Ankara or Tokyo, it's never going to have the same edge when nice tablecloths and crockery are involved.

When Blue Lagoon strays from the obvious it comes into its own, but playing safe leads to disappointment. Thus an attack of menu envy descended when Guvek (£10.90) arrived, a charmless heap of lamb and rice which would have been perfectly OK – a bit like the life you settle for - had I not seen more.

GuvekGuvek

Unfortunately, I spent the entire experience staring at my friend's vegetable moussaka (£8.90), a bowl of hot lust: overlapping layers of aubergine, courgette, onions and more all doused in tomato riches from which cascaded a bubbling lava of bechamel and cheese.

She was rightly smug and this account of Blue Lagoon would have ended here, with a big, fat “so-what?”, but for my deciding to drop back a fortnight later in a bid to salvage something more interesting.

Veggie moussakaVeggie moussaka

It emerges that what the Blue Lagoon can't do with an aubergine isn't worth knowing and when it uses huge, nicely parched slices of it to swaddle what is the sweetest lamb, green peppers, leeks, corn and more in another of those intense tomato bases, the result, Islim Kebab (£10.90) a baked affair that is delicious, different and outstanding.

Tandir Kebap (sic), boneless lamb marinated in various eastern spices and herbs, had been roasted for a long time. Too long, some might say, judging by the look of it. Nevertheless, my companion for this second trip (a food reviewer has more companions than Doctor Who) is having none of it.

Islim kebabIslim kebab

And unless he has insider knowledge, we can assume he meant it figuratively when he declared it “the dog's bollocks”. The ultimate accolade. To its rescue had come opious quantities of “special sauce” - for that read more tomato – gentle couscous and the ubiquitous but reasonable side salad.

1-Blue Lagoon Lark Lane %2817%29
It seemed that I wasn't the only individual for whom one night in Istanbul was not enough. For upon this return, who did I immediately bump into but our first-date man. He greeted me like an old friend this time.“Come and meet...” he said, grinning. And there she was, his first date woman.

This time they were at a bigger table for three, this time her friend was in tow.

“Oh, we come here all the time, it's fabulous,” the trio beamed.

Or as the bad pixie on my shoulder whispered: “Well it is the suburbs”.


ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up the bill

Rating:

15.5/20

Breakdown:

Food         7.5/10 
Service     4/5 
Ambience  4/5

Address:

Blue Lagoon
83 Lark Lane,
Liverpoo
L17 8UP
0151 727 7796

No website or twitter but Facebook page here

1-Blue Lagoon Lark Lane %2819%29
Venues are rated against the best 
examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, Turkish cafes against other Turkish cafes etc.  Following on from this the scores represent: 



1-5:
     Straight in the dog bowl

6-9:     Get the chippy 
10-11: It's an emergency
12-13: If you happen to be passing
14-15: Worth a trip out 
16-17: Very good to exceptional 
18-20: As good as it gets 

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AnonymousDecember 14th 2013.

Spot on. Nicely told too

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