Hampstead has long been one of my favourite places in London, but because of the high cost of renting in the area, I have to rely on the occasional trip rather than living there. It also happens to be the location of the Royal Free hospital, which I have the misfortune to have to visit rather frequently. Going to this restaurant was a reward for one such visit, and I have visited once more since.
The restaurant is located very close to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath and is just opposite the Silver Link train station. For those travelling by tube, it isn’t quite so convenient. The nearest tube station is Belsize Park on the Northern Line – walking from the station to the restaurant should take about 10-15 minutes.
Address: 11 South End Road
London NW3 2PT
Telephone: 020 7794 5498
From the outside, there is nothing particularly eye-catching about the entrance to the restaurant; in fact, I passed it several times before realising that it was not just another coffee shop. In the summer (and yes, that means now, despite the rain!), there are places to sit outside and there are french door style windows that open directly into the restaurant. In the winter, these are kept closed and another door is used as the entrance.
Once inside, it is not hard to believe that you are in Turkey or Cyprus or somewhere like that. A great deal of attention has been paid to the furnishings, which look very casual, although were probably very expensive. Padded benches covered in a stripey material run along two sides of the wall, meaning that there is plenty of room for both people and belongings. The room is decorated by lamps, picutres, pots and pans and other implements that look very Turkish to me (although I haven’t actually been to Turkey). Coupled with Turkish looking (and speaking) staff and traditional Turkish music, it is really easy to drift away and imagine being on holiday – it really is a very pleasant room.
Both times that I have been to the restaurant, the service has been excellent. There are usually two young girls serving; both are friendly and pleasant, without being too ‘in your face’. The owner/manager has been there both times too and has always come over to ask us if we enjoyed the food. Our food and drinks were served promptly, but not so fast that I thought the food was probably microwaved.
When we asked for the bill, it was brought to us promptly, accompanied by two sticky pieces of delicious Turkish Delight.
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