It was the service above all that stood out at Ephesus, a busy Turkish restaurant in Orpington’s high street.
My fellow diner and I were greeted by smiles and warmth and quickly shown to a table by the window. And aside from waiting a little while for my first cocktail the service was faultless – if a tad overwhelming.
Dinner began with smoked salmon served on crunchy bread, bound with either tzatziki, taramasalata or cream cheese. It was a pleasing start.
Following that we had hummus – made in-house, as you’d expect from a Turkish place – which came with pitta bread that was fluffy and fragrant. We also had a dish of slow-cooked aubergine and tomato; sort of like a Middle-Eastern ratatouille, where spice balanced sweetness delightfully.
The portions were big so, although prompted, we moved swiftly onto main courses and evaded a hot starter. Armed with a decent Turkish red wine we went for a large fillet of halibut and a spicy minced chicken kebab.
The fish sat atop a warm Mediterranean sauce – the menu, as the manager noted, incorporates Greek and other European cuisines – and came with salad and simple vegetables. The chicken was minced with herbs and subtlety, wrapped in flat bread and other accompanying bounties – including a huge dish of yoghurt that would’ve fed an army.
It must be said the presentation was all very bold and exuberant – balsamic glaze was thrust upon each dish and little pockets of finely diced tomato and leaves peppered each plate. You might say it’s all a bit off-putting, but when each waiter and waitress smiled as they did, there was no need really to be offended. It was all part of the extravagant charm and overarching aim to bring happiness.
The desserts too didn’t lack on the additions, with an indulgent cheesecake amid plenty of toffee sauce and the more authentic baklavas daintily placed. They were both incredibly rich and sumptuous.
Sadly, we didn't stay long enough to see the belly dancers. But such frivolity amid the promise of more Turkish wine, and food that would unlikely stretch even a restricted budget, Ephesus would be a good shout for a celebratory night.