For those who don’t speak Turkish, the word Gökyüzü means ‘sky’. After visiting this restaurant, I realised how aptly named it was. The flavours were nothing short of rich, succulent and uplifting. I’ll be surely paying another visit to taste more of what Gökyüzü has on offer, because one visit is nearly not enough.
***B E G I N N I N G S***
Gökyüzü was founded by the Yayuz family 18 years ago and the business has been growing since. They currently have two branches, one in Harringay and another in Chingford, with a third opening in Walthamstow. I decided to visit the lovely Green Lane in Harringay, a street lined with Turkish restaurants and shops, most of which are family owned. Gökyüzü, Harringay also happens to be the first restaurant opened in 1999. It has been refurbished since, and has taken on a modern and trendy look, which singles it out from the neighbouring Turkish delis.
***F O O D***
And just like any family-run business, Gökyüzü excels in hospitality and stays true to its culinary roots. I found that not only were the dishes honest (also matched by honest prices), but that they were representative of Mediterranean cuisine in their vibrance, depth of flavour, and fresh ingredients. They also make their own bread, served straight out of the oven.
Their menu provides lots to choose from, from typical sharing appetisers such as baba ganoush and kisir to Turkish pizzas, seafood and chargrilled meat. They provide complimentary starters, my personal favourite being Haydari, which is a delicious, savoury dip made of strained yoghurt, feta and dill. It is served with their homemade pitta bread. They also serve a bowl of salad, which, whilst simple, focuses on the quality of its ingredients. And as if that’s not enough, you even receive a complimentary cup of Turkish tea. As far as Mediterranean hospitality goes, Gökyüzü embraces putting it in practice.
Whilst we were there, we tried several mezes – a selection of small dishes, which were great to share. We tried Kisir, a vegetarian dish consisting of crushed wheat, celery, mint, herbs and tomato sauce, topped with a stuffed olive. The kisir was one of my favourites, because the combination of the herby tomato sauce with the wheat, really delivered a savoury and satisfying dish which melts away in your mouth.
We also tried another vegetarian dish called Mucver, which is grated courgette, feta cheese, parsley, egg and flour, deep fried and served with yoghurt topped with parsley and pomegranate.
Which brings me to my exaltation of pomegranate: before my visit to Gökyüzü, I was very sceptical of pomegranate. There was something about how it’s bitter aftertaste snatched away that momentous sweetness too quickly for my liking. But I consider myself to have had an awakening at Gökyüzü because the pomegranate seeds complimented the dishes so well, I now can’t begin to imagine them without.
Another warm meze we really enjoyed, was the Karides – pan fried prawns with cherry tomatoes, spices and herbs. The cherry tomatoes were so sweet and plump that they burst into your mouth.
We also loved the Hellim (grilled halloumi), this being another instance where the pomegranate seeds made the dish all the more special.
I also have to give credit to the incredible dips which we often take for granted because they are so readily available. The hummus and baba ganoush were divine. The baba ganoush in particular was different to what I’m accustomed to. I usually find that baba ganoush can have a bitter or smoky undertone. However, this version was creamy and rich due to the addition of yoghurt, and once again, it was delightful to try it with pomegranate seeds.
As you can see from our table, we had a wonderful selection, some of which I haven’t mentioned above, including stuffed olives, a range dips, fresh herby Turkish bread, and Acılı Ezme Salata, a spicy tomato and green pepper salad. And of course, Turkish mint tea, followed by Turkish coffee accompanied by a Turkish delight.
I also witnessed their full platter intended for sharing, which is a meat feast consisting of lamb shish, chicken shish, adana kebab, lamb ribs, chicken and lamb doner, chicken wings, served with rice and bulgur. Will definitely be trying this next time!