Arriving at Baraka, I feel like I’ve been here before. Impossible, since it’s only been open a month, yet whether it’s the welcoming feel of the place or the friendly hospitality of the staff, there’s something about it that makes my guest and I immediately feel at ease. This is fitting since in Turkish culture, the term ‘Baraka’ translates to an old wooden home where people socialise, live and eat.
This all-day Anatolian restaurant and bar, located in the city, opened its doors to the public in January. As well as adopting an old home as its name, Baraka’s open flame Mangal style of cooking has inherited ancient recipes from across the Ottoman Empire.
You can find the restaurant in the trendy Finsbury Avenue Square, set in a listed building adjacent to Liverpool Street Station. It’s spacious with a rich, textured and layered design. There’s a colour palate of vibrant sea blues, warm terracotta and cooling charcoal, while the raw design from the architecture and open fire cooking is the backbone of Baraka.
They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooking up recipes that have been shared between families and friends for hundreds of years. The food served is a lovely marriage of organic and locally sourced produce, spiced with ingredients found along the Silk Route. These are then cooked using the traditional stone oven and charcoal flames, which gives a gorgeous barbecued flavour.
Start with a selection of mezza plates such as the delicious humus kavurma with lamb, pine kernels and mixed herbs, and mop that all up with the amazing Turkish bread. The hand rolled pastry filled with warm feta cheese and herbs are excellent, as is the 12 hour marinated aubergine, mixed pepper and onion baked in a tasty tomato sauce.
The charcoal grill is a meat-lover’s dream come true. The 24-hour marinated chicken and lamb shish are both amazing, especially the latter. It’s smoky, tender and delicious. The lamb kofte, too, is seasoned wonderfully and is perfect when paired with the hot sauce on the table. If you don’t like the heat, it goes really well with yoghurt too!
There are a number of other dishes I personally would love to sample and I will be going back to try them all. The slow braised shoulder of lamb tagine, served on the bone with prunes, apricots, almonds and rice sounds divine!
If you’re into your sweets then you cannot go wrong with traditional, home-made baklava with rose and Turkish delight ice cream. Very, very good.
There’s an elevated bar with high seating and intimate tables, serving spiced cocktails and Turkish wines under mid-century mood lighting, which is a perfect setting for a pre-dinner drink. Guests walk down towards the restaurant, with the surrounding walls handcrafted in clay. The open kitchen is at the heart of the space with chefs cooking over flames and coals lending to the ambiance.
In the warmer months to come, the outside terrace will surely become popular. It’s filled with olive trees, foliage from Turkey and herbs that are used in the cooking. What could possibly make for a better Anatolian setting?
For more information visit www.barakarestaurant.co.uk