Highland Aspendos Turkish Feast

I have a huge appreciation of Greek & Turkish food after going to Greece last year. If there’s anyone that knows how to cook simple but do it very well, it’s them. You think that the lamb skewers sound basic then they arrive & you can tell that it’s been skilfully marinated in lemon, oregano and other beautiful flavours. And the dips are fantastic and the seafood out of this world. 

Inverness only has one restaurant that fits the bill, unless there’s others hiding. Aspendos is a Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant on Queensgate next to the post office. 

We almost never made it here because I’d tried phoning all the day before to book but no-one was answering or it was engaged, and they don’t have an online booking system. I know from working in a restaurant not to phone at peak times (taking a booking at 8pm on a Saturday night for a week in advance when you have a full restaurant waiting for service is a nightmare for a restaurant worker!) but I tried about 8 times to no avail. Luckily I popped in on the off chance but I hope they don’t lose a lot of business from such things happening. 

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The mixed mezze menu would have appealed but my cousin is a bit fussier than me so we chose from the lunch menu instead. 

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Starters were decided on – mucver and meze tabagi – and they brought us complimentary bread and dips whilst we waited. 

I’m guessing that the bread was homemade & it was wonderful. The soft, warm and herby bread tastes delicious topped with some creamy cheese dip or tomatoey number.

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Mucver arrived looking like rosti cakes dolloped with yoghurt. They were crispy on the outside and full of flavour, I’d order this again.

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The meze arrived with cacik, humus, tarama salata & what I think was maydonoz salatasi and kozlenmis pathican. Cacik is similar to tsatziki, humus is chickpea dip and tarama salata is fish pate. The more acidic maydonoz salatasi lifted the creamy flavours (a tabbouleh parsley salad with tomato, onion, olive oil and lemon juice) and the kozlenmis pathican (roasted aubergine, peppers, parsley, garlic & olive oil) complemented it. 

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Main courses arrived and I was lacking in stomach space already. The tavuk sis across the table from me was marinated chicken with rice and salad. Exactly what I mean about simple done well. I tasted it and my only criticism is that I like lots of fresh oregano on my meat and there wasn’t, but this is purely a personal observation. 

They also came out and offered their homemade chilli sauce – just say yes (delicious!). 

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My mantarli karides guvec arrived as a baked pot of prawns, mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, onion, aspendos sauce and cheese. Again, the flavours were all there and there were plenty of  tiny prawns. I would have preferred a smaller portion of this and some rice to accompany it instead to soak up the lovely sauce. There were so many prawns that I couldn’t finish it as a dish alone. 

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Having decided not to have a dessert, we were somehow convinced into sharing a ‘small’ one (not a hard job really!). 

Classic baklava was gooey and nutty. When it arrived it looked a small-ish portion but it’s so rich you wouldn’t want any more.

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Aspendos isn’t a fancy looking place, but that lends itself to making you feel at home and comfortable. The service is friendly and polite. It would be a good place for a friends get together as a group. Our trip to Aspendos was one we enjoyed so much that I’ve been back since with Mr S. I had to go back for the bread, dips & chilli sauce alone. 

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