With its simple frontage barely standing out among the elaborately themed restaurants and cafés that surround it, you might find it easy to walk past Pamukkale, one of Northampton’s newest restaurants.
But walk through the door on St Giles Street, and you are warmly welcomed by the spirit of the Mediterranean.
Not only are the staff friendly and accommodating, but the decoration is constructed to replicate its namesake; the breathtaking iconic “cotton castle” of carbonate minerals in the River Menderes valley in the Aegean region of Turkey.
The dining area itself is simple and clean, providing a view of the open-plan kitchen, kebab grill and impressively illuminated bar area.
I took a girlfriend who had never tried Turkish food before and am happy to say that we both left feeling she had experienced an excellent first impression.
Straight away the starter menu already left us spoilt for choice, and no sooner had we started to peruse the array of hot and cold plates than a huge plate of hot popped Turkish bread appeared in front of us with two dips; a spicy salsa and a herby yoghurt.
I ordered a dish of crushed wheat with tomato and herbs, while my friend ordered the filo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta. The portions were much larger than we had expected, but they were both delicious and we had no trouble getting through them.
As a main course, she went for the traditional lamb kebab with spicy sauce, rice and vegetables, while I opted for the chicken leg stuffed with vegetables and served with fresh salad. The, again, generous portions were nicely presented and tasted even better still.
Both meats were cooked perfectly and the flavours were authentic and unpretentious, complementing each other beautfiully.
Even the sides were kept up to standard; beautifully cooked fluffy rice with soft veg, and the salad was brought to life with a light and tangy dressing.
Even though the restaurant began to fill up rapidly with families, friends, couples and parties, we weren’t rushed at all and were allowed a break before we moved onto dessert.
Although there wasn’t a huge amount to pick from, the choice was obvious; the homemade baklava and ice cream.
Made fresh on site, the pastry was gorgeously warm and gooey and the waiter was happy to let us swap the rose ice cream promised on the menu for the, admittedly less adventurous, vanilla.
Stuffed to bursting point, we were grateful for the complementary glass of Turkish tea that came next, giving us the chance to digest a little and soak up the atmosphere before heading home.
In the meatime, I also noticed the lunch offer; hearty helpings of lamb or chicken kebabs, stews and grills for £7.95 each.
Good thing it’s within walking distance from the office...
44 St Giles Street
Northampton NN1 1JW
Tel: 01604 947600
Value for money: Fantastic
Disabled access: All ground-level
Parking: On road, free after 6pm
TOTAL COST: £36.72
STAR RATING: 9/10