Location: 53 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6LB
Date & Time: 21st January 2016 at 7:30pm
Babaji Pide website
Babaji Pide is situated on a busy central London corner. Yet as you enter the restaurant and escape the hustle and bustle of the streets, it is as though you’ve taken a short trip to the enchanting Turkey. The atmosphere and decor was on point and beautifully embodied the culture of the cuisine served.
The restaurant has 2 levels; with seating both upstairs and downstairs it is a great location for accommodating larger groups. We would however, recommend calling in advance as the restaurant gets pretty busy.
We were seated in the intimate and cozy downstairs area. We both noted that despite the tables being very close together it didn’t feel intrusive. One of the great aspects about the downstairs seating is that you are in the midst of the Pide (Turkish pizza) action. All the activity takes place around a huge stove which definitely adds to the lively atmosphere.
As for the customer service, it was great! Our waiter for the evening was really friendly and had good knowledge of the menu.
In total we probably spent just over two hours in the restaurant and despite the constant flow of customers, at no point were we rushed or made to feel as though we had over stayed our welcome.
HAMSİ – £4.50
Pan fried whitebait in breadcrumb
FRIED CALAMARI – £6.90
With lemon and Turkish red chilli flake
KÜLBASTI – £11.50
Grilled lamb, tomato sauce, yoghurt & flat bread
CHICKEN BEYTİ – £10.50
Minced chicken, parsley, Turkish red chilli flake and bulgur rice
RAKI – Efe Green 45% (50ml) – £4.90
Rakhi is an aniseed flavour aperitif and must-have drink accompanying a Meze meal. Distilled from grapes it is referred to as ‘Lion’s Milk’ and traditional served with water and ice.
Watermelon Lemonade – £3.00
Linden, Ginger & Honey Tea – £2.50
The whitebait was delicious, the portion size was decent and the flavours were great. Even though the fish was fried, it wasn’t saturated in oil, which was perfect. If you’re a fish lover give it a try.
I really didn’t know what to expect with this meal, I’m a big lamb fan so as soon as I saw ‘grilled lamb’ my eyes widened with excitement. This dish was full of so many wonderful flavours and textures – the combination of lamb, tomato sauce and yoghurt went so well together!
I can’t lie when the waiter first brought my drink over my initial thought was…’where is the rest of it?’ but with the first sip, the sharpness hit the back of my throat and I soon realised that the quantity was just right. Just enough to sip on throughout the meal, I think any extra would have been a little too much. The watermelon lemonade was not what I expected at all. I thought it would be fizzy but it was actually still. The flavour was strong yet refreshing. It has a kick to it from the lemons but that’s nicely complimented by the subtle sweetness of the watermelon.
My hands are up, I am no Turkish cuisine connoisseur but I really did enjoy my meal and experience at Babaji Pide. I would definitely say it is near the top of the list of Turkish restaurants I’ve visited.
The calamari was definitely tasty and large in quantity. I was genuinely surprised at the variety of flavour and its tender texture whilst wrapped in crispy batter. Additionally, the batter was just right, not too thin thats it’s barely there and not too much that it’s overbearing.
I truly enjoyed the Chicken Beyti, the minced chicken was tastefully grilled as it was succulent and juicy on the inside (YES i did describe it with those words exactly!). The bulgur wheat was wonderful, it actually reminded me of a healthy version of Jollof rice because it was very light but not overloaded by the tomato flavour, therefore making you want more. Even to the extent that I went to Sainsbury’s on the weekend and bought bulgur wheat to try and remake it again at home (currently still in the trial stages). It has also given me a new found love for bulgur wheat as another option for rice.
Linden, Ginger & Honey Tea
Now I love tea so the tastier the better, but I am not a fan of sweet tea. My only description for this tea is that it is a party in the mouth. It is served with very thin slices of apples and oranges which you leave to saturate in the tea for a short period. As you drink it, you can taste all the different flavours complementing each other. No particular ingredient is overshadowing the other, it tastes and smells very authentic and true to the cultural vibes we were getting from the restaurant.
I’ve always enjoyed Turkish food as it’s rich in flavour and I can definitely say that Babaji Pide did not disappoint at all.
Our thoughts on Raki
Raki, Raki, Raki, that drink is something else! It’s hard to know where to even begin. After seeing the party of 3 on the table next to us order several rounds our curiosity was in full swing and we decided to give it a try.
We got the ball rolling by adding ice water to the clear spirit and voila… the liquid changed from transparent to opaque – our drink was now ready for consumption. Raki has an extremely strong aniseed flavour which is definitely an acquired taste. We later learned that you can adjust the strength by increasing or reducing the amount of water you add to the spirit.
After the first gulp you can feel your insides warming up. We had fun trying something new but this potent alcoholic beverage is simply not for us.
Overall restaurant rating:
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