Topkapi restaurant, 484 Preston St, Ottawa
Very pretty place, all red and gold, but small. I counted a dozen tables, only two for more than four people. The music seemed to be classical played on traditional middle eastern instruments, a bit odd but lovely when you realized what it was. Our waitress was slow, but very informed on the dishes, checked with the cook for gluten cross contamination, and had the silkiest accent. Even the menu was delightful, read in her voice.
I had expected our options to be limited, as I’d bought a Groupon and it was for a four-course meal with wine and coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were at least two choices at every course. And the majority of the menu is GF.
We also had a choice of six wines for the free one with our dinner. I picked a Pinot Grigio because I am sensitive to migraines and red wine is problematic. It was nicely chilled and arrived before the food, so we could enjoy a glass.
We both asked for the lentil soup, and it was amazing! Touches of lemon, mint and hot pepper in a pureed red lentil soup base. Even the dish was pretty.
Next we had a choice of about a dozen appetizers, and went for the combo plate. I can’t remember them all, most were pureed with garlic and spices. Oddly, no crackers or pita to scoop them up with.
The red was the hottest, hot peppers, tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Next to it is a tzatziki like yogurt, mint and garlic paste, then a garlic and I have no idea mix that was delicious! The green and white slices were a spherical cucumber, then there was a rice, herb and wine stuffed green pepper, hummus, feta cheese, eggplant something like a chunky baba ganoush, and a dolmade or stuffed grape leaf. The center was pickled beet shreds, but unlike anything my Grammy used to make. Much fresher and cleaner tasting.
Then we got our main course, I asked for the kebab meat, no pita (for obvious reasons) and, although a little salty, it was very good.
It came with roasted tomato slices, sauteed veggies, rice and fried potatoes. The meat was sliced very thinly, beef and lamb mixed together in a gravy. A large portion, there was enough left over for lunch the next day. My dearest hubby got the Kofta (meatballs) but there was some question about whether they contained wheat as there was a language barrier with the cook. So I didn’t taste them, but my sweetie seemed to like them. (edit; I tried them at lunch the next day with no reaction, so they were GF)
The highlight, though, was the dessert.
Sweetie got a creme caramel, I chose the coconut pudding. Both came with fresh, ripe strawberries as decoration. It was rich, creamy and so coconutty I nearly swooned!
We also got Turkish tea, and a small square of hand made Turkish delight.
The tea just seemed to be a strong orange pekoe, no milk, so nothing special. The Turkish delight was as different from the US chocolate bar as it could get. Lemon and honey taste, much softer and silkier. And no chocolate.
All in all I give the place a 4 out of 5.
My only two complaints were that the service was slow, bordering on ridiculous. There were only a dozen tables, not nearly all full, so there should have been faster service from the kitchen. I wondered if it was because we were on a groupon?
And that there were no clearly marked GF dishes, and the waitress had a hard time getting clarification.
They made up for a lot with a coupon for our next visit for buy one get one free main courses. And an invitation to a Turkish Night boat cruise with bellydancing.