Hazev – Turkish tuck in the Docklands

Since the much-lamented demise of [link2post id=”393″]Tike[/link2post] I’ve been searching for an inspiring purveyor of Turkish comestibles. [link2post id=”3960″]Haz Premier Place was bloody awful![/link2post] I was far from rude enough about it in my review. Could Hazev (one dock along from Canary Wharf) provide Turkish titillation?

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That so many of the decent, up-standing, hard-working bankers, lawyers and associated professionals from the area could drag themselves from their desks in order to dine here gave a strong signal that we would do well here. Then we caught a whiff from the charcoal grill in the open kitchen area; the aromas of grilling meat got me drooling in double-quick time. The portents were promising.

The menu was excellent. We agreed we’d happily order any of the thirty-eight starters they listed. The main-courses included a plentiful array of grilled offerings and we were pleasantly taken with the number of casseroles and oven-cooked offerings that rarely make it onto menus. We were gob-smacked by the part of the menu listing the desserts. Until I perused that section it had never occurred to me that Levantine sweetmeats were worthy of anything other than sneering disdain. It was frankly mind-boggling that they served eight desserts that we would be happy to order.

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We ordered four starters to share and all were good – even the options perilously lacking in meat-value. As the picture suggests, Editor Daniel was keen to devour the patlican-biber kizartma – fried aubergines and peppers with fresh tomato sauce and yoghurt. The dish deserved devouring as it was agreeably flavourful and surprisingly devoid of dreary, insipid blandness considering it was a vegetable dish.

Our other non-meat starter were some falafel (known here as sebzeli kofte). I found them a tiny bit on the dry side, but they were served with more than enough delicious hoummous to keep them lubricated as they slipped into our eager mouths.

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By far my favourite starter were the icli kofte, which were very like what I would normally expect to be termed kibbe – little cracked-wheat parcels filled with minced lamb and pine-nuts. They had a really strong flavour of quality lamb which was enhanced rather than over-whelmed by a skilled use of herbs and spices. I have never had kibbe as good as these and I chortled loudly as I greedily devoured them.

Finally we took the option to nosh on some Turkish sausage (sucuk izgara). Powerfully infused with an impressive quantity of garlic allied to an essential meatiness and palate-coating richness these slices were most definitely from the dissolute end of sausage fun.

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Both our main courses featured grilled lamb kofte: Daniel’s on a bed of fried leeks and mine on aubergine and red pepper purée. These kebabs were as far removed from the contaminated, mephitic horrors peddled by Ahmed’s ‘bab and botulism van during my Oxford years, as the Duke of Edinburgh is distant from tact, discretion and mannerliness. Top kit, most definitely. Portion sizes were deeply satisfying and we were compelled by the quality of ingredients which sympathetic and skilled preparation really allowed to shine. Do not miss the chilli sauce when it is offered, whilst it is a tad fiery it works extremely well as a flavour enhancer.

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Desserts should be, in every way, the climax of a meal, yet all too often they end up a limp and embarrassing business. Not so chez Hazev. Daniel ordered with stunning boldness and was well-served. His baby aubergines were soaked in clove-infused syrup and served with ‘clotted cream’. Kaymakli patlican, as the dish was called, not only looked really rather suggestive, but also had the most staggering cream artifice we have tasted. It wasn’t just clotted cream, it was clotted cream super-saturated with sugar. A new and amazing taste experience – I recommend this tooth-decaying confection unreservedly. Try some now.

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I ordered kunefe (shredded pastry filled with soft white cheese and baked in honey syrup) which required a ten minute wait to be freshly prepared; a trifling inconvenience given the result. I am rarely thrilled by these super-sweet pastry affairs but this was quite delicious and I will happily order it in future.

Hazev far surpasses all other Turkish restaurants we’ve patronised both in terms of quality and sophistication. The service was efficient and unobtrusive and the meal flowed with a good pace. If you are bonkers enough to order wine with Turkish food you’ll find enough good options on their list; you should go for beer, though. Finally, I was rather taken with the range of Turkish hits playing in the background. I normally disapprove of background music in restaurants, but these were catchy and not too loud. Should you be in the area and wish to dine, ignore all those frightful chain restaurants that infest Canary Wharf and go to Hazev, it is tip-top.

Contact details: Hazev, Discovery Dock West, 2 South Quay Square, Canary Wharf E14 9R. Telephone: 020 7515 9467.