A (grander) offshoot of a north London Turkish restaurant of some note; a good and friendly all-rounder, it seems a little out of place among the shiny boutiques of Brompton Cross.
ere’s an oddity. The original Highbury Park Iznik – a pretty little restaurant, with very good Turkish food – was quite a place in the late-’90s. Then it started becoming very erratic, to such an extent that it seemed, at best, to be a place of purely local interest, to the extent that it got itself dropped from our annual guide.
Well, now the brand is back – or, rather, expanding – with a new offshoot in a bizarrely unexpected location. Stoke Newington or Hampstead, say, you could have imagined, but the shiny heart of ‘boutique’ Chelsea, next to the Ralph Lauren shop? Inconceivable!
Truth really is stranger than fiction. The former ‘Crescent’ site – trading as ‘The Cross’ in more recent years – has been comprehensively refurbished in a traditional style that seeks to evoke the North London original. Despite a lot of soft furnishings, however, attempts to disguise the cold proportions of the space have only been partially successsful. On the plus side, it is a handsome job, and you do get impressively large tables (a bit too big to encourage intimacy).
Not having been to the Highbury Park original for many years, we can’t compare and contrast the food, but we can say our Chelsea meal was consistently good, in a fairly standard Turkish mode (from a relatively short à la carte menu). All those known and usual starters such as deep fried calamari, humous, dolmas and borek were done well, as were lamb and chicken mains, and a very sweet rice pudding.
The service – ours was from the proprietor, we would guess – is very charming, but we do hope the management quickly works out that shiny Brompton Cross folk don’t like to be kept waiting while one (Turkish) table hogs all the attention.