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Tulay Turkish Barbecue - restaurant review

Angie Sammons finds that smoke signals spell good times up in Waterloo

Written by . Published on January 13th 2012.

Tulay Turkish Barbecue - restaurant review

Pictures by Stephanie De Leng

A CHAP from Spin, Duck & Dive, one of the bigger North West PR agencies, asked me, at the back end of last year, if he might sometime accompany me on a restaurant review.

We were at a party.

“We will go to the Tulay,” I told him over the noise.

“The toilet?” he replied, nose twitching.

“No! TULAY.”

“What’s too late?”

Eventually, he comprehended and then immediately spoiled it. “She,” he sniffed in the direction of an equally enlivened colleague...”She wants to take me to some kebab shop in South Road.”


He had got it right the second time, after all. For him, it was too late and the Cat's Mother sauntered home whistling Carole King.

When I really did make it, last week, it was with a friend who is keener to take the rough with the smooth. And rough it was: Waterloo was being lashed by 70mph gales in a way that would have made Daphne du Maurier gasp. 

South Road runs up from the Mersey estuary and, on days like these, sand gets in your doorbell and your car engine. It is nature’s facial peel and it takes true grit, or a love of it in your teeth, to venture out. 

Around here we are all iron men. We like to feel the breeze, and this one pushed us all the way not to "some kebab shop", but into the first Turkish open coal barbecue on the flaming, whipping dunes of the north end: Tulay. 

It would be fair to say Tulay is housed in one of the less auspicious properties on “The Strip”: the sort of restaurant equivalent of The Amityville Horror. It sits on the uneasy resting place of a mediocre tapas diner called El Nino (it truly does get blowy down here) and before that a Greek whose lamb keftedes was minty in an idiomatic way unique to Liverpool. 

In this incarnation, the food and service are set to break the curse. Young owner Kadir comes from Istanbul to Waterloo via Elif, the popular Turkish restaurant in Lark Lane, where he was the chef. He isn't the first to make the migration from L17 to L22. 

Before we get to the array of “charcoal specials” as distinct from “fish on charcoal”, “grilled steak on charcoal”, Tulay specials and a reasonable selection of vegetarian dishes, come three starters: Karides (£4) some fat, juicy prawns in a shimmering haze of garlic; Patlican Tarator (£3.50) a pleasant assembly of roasted aubergine in tahini, more garlic, lemon and yoghurt, and Sucuk (£3.90), “spicy Turkish sausage served on a bed of lettuce”. The first two put us in a very good mood. The sausage of the latter was meaty, moist and good, but it was let down by the limp shards of iceberg which is just one of those nods to the colour green you get, too often, and which is rarely touched. 


Speaking of appearances, and speaking of rough, smooth and PR, I should mention that most of the pictures taken here were by my friend and colleague, photographer Stephanie de Leng on her new iPhone 4s. It's not a freebie, we didn't have to mention it. But seeing as I have done, I shall now start to live in completely vain hope that a box marked AppleTM will arrive in the post.

The fish could have done with a bit of spin. Balik Izgara (£13.95), a whole seabass, was probably farmed, I reasoned, but I asked anyway. No, it is wild, Kadir frowned. You should say so, I told him. It needs shouting about. Turn up the bass. 

Did I want its bountious, firm-but-delicate yet spanking flesh removing from the bone? No, but thanks for asking. I turned and Steph was already chewing its face off, literally. She reminded me that in terms of flavour this was the most prized part of its anatomy. She had a cheek. Both actually. 

Dscf03822Tavuk Biftek (£10) showed that this chef is not frightened of heat. The chilli and spice marinade used to flay these generous chicken thighs into tender submission gave the dish a refreshing dynamic. Vibrant Mediterranean salads were lavished on both mains, quelling the scorch of each in different ways. 

Quenching the scorch was a flinty New Zealand sauv blanc (£18.99) from Wanui Springs and its friend, El Caballo (£15.99) from Chile.

Oh, and the desserts. Were they bought in? Yes, with the exception of these cakes made by Kadir's mother that very morning. They were half sponge pudding, half doughnut, I suppose, not the Krispy Kreme sort that have the same effect as crack (apparently), but the homecrafted, made-with-love sort. Soft, sugary and beautiful.

This is way more than some kebab shop. It's unpretentious and serves simple food without any added complications. Its charming owner (Tulay is the name of his three-year-old niece) and his childhood sweetheart are putting in tireless effort and they put up with us, rambling away, long into the night after they had to. Their first child is due later this year, but they have already got their work cut out with this baby.

No, our snorting young gun at the beginning didn't know what he'd dismissed. He should really be hauled over the coke. Sorry, I mean the coals.

Follow Angie Sammons on Twitter @twangeee

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up their bills - never the restaurant, never a PR company.




Food 7.5/10
Service 5/5
Ambience 3.5/5


Tulay Open Flame BBQ
117-119 South Road,
Liverpool, L22 0LT
0151 928 5153 

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, Turkish barbecues against the best Turkish barbecues. 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; 16-18 very good to exceptional; 19-20 As good as it gets.

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Angie Sammons shared this on Facebook on January 13th 2012.
Angie Sammons shared this on Facebook on January 13th 2012.
younger-than-twiggy-anywayJanuary 13th 2012.

can't wait to go - and I hope you are there!

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2012.

Excellent fun Angie

Myles FailbetterJanuary 14th 2012.

you were right about the Waterloo pizza house so we'll definitely try this one too.

Myles FailbetterApril 9th 2012.

we did try it and it was disappointing. very bog standard, slightly gristly kebabs and over-attentive service. not cheap neither. for really good kebabs, try the Ferdowse. like stepping in off the Arab street, a Kurdish eating house, mostly patronised by Kurds and serving up superb kebab and roti for pennies.

1 Response: Reply To This...
James FinneganAugust 18th 2012.

In three very simple words no no no

I attended tulays south road waterloo on a warm Saturday evening with my girlfriend and was very insulted by the sheer arrogance of the waiter who I believe now is the part owner, this is a Turkish Barbecue right and naturally barbecues generate a lot of heat, tulays idea is to keep the doors open to dispense the heat instead of installing full conditioning, within the space of five minutes I was completely drenched in sweat where I had to use a red paper napkin to remove the access sweat from my face, I will break this down into the two incidents with this very arrogant waiter/part owner.

1. When the waiter /owner attended the table I complained of the heat and was told by him (O stop complaining) instead of suggesting a different area or even opening a window….customer care at its worst!

2. When the meal arrived the same guy announced the dish differently from the way I read it on the menu so I was a little puzzled but was told promptly by him that (I did not even know what I ordered)

I was extremely angered and could have easily turn nasty but I controlled the situation, I would not recommend this place to anyone as the food is very basic and for what it is very pricey, the absence of air conditioning makes it a no all day long and that coupled with an idiot for a waiter who is sure to run into trouble one night.

I have since gone in and complained to his brother and received an apology and was told next time we go in that we will be well looked after….fat chance of that happening.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this appalling restaurant a -1 and that is being generous.

James FinneganJune 13th 2013.

Been and would never go again...worst example of customer service i ever experienced

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 13th 2013.

You're not letting this drop are you Jim? Time to move on maybe?

AnonymousJune 13th 2013.

I remember going into Reeces café at the bottom of Bold Street in 1953 and I was kept waiting for nearly 5 minutes before they brought my muffin.

AnonymousJune 13th 2013.

your lucky I'm still waiting.

EditorialSeptember 18th 2013.

Jim, the owner of Tulay and his staff. who we are referring to in this review, departed in the summer of 2012 when it was taken over by his business partner, we are told, who has run it ever since and does things differently. We have not been back ourselves so cannot comment. However, we will be visiting his latest gaff in Southport very soon and hope to have a review on in the next couple of weeks.

AnonymousJune 13th 2013.

Did they get the pronunciation correct? I'd have been extremely angered at such provocation, possibly even flirted with nastiness, but ultimately suspect I would have controlled this volatile flare up like a man. But I would have called in later to show that I was NOT about to back down in a rush

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 13th 2013.

I was once in a Mexican restaurant, where a Swedish waitress corrected a Columbian woman's pronunciation of chimichanga....

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