Thursday, July 15, 2010

Arda, Caulfield by Kit Kat

I’d heard good things about Arda in Glen Huntly road in Caufield South. When I told a few friends I was going there a few weeks ago they gasped and exclaimed “Oh, the food there’s great, you’ll love it...” Considering my previous culinary experience in this suburb was such a delicious one (see Bombay by Night), I was really looking forward to indulging in some traditional Turkish fare.

On entering the restaurant/cafe at around 6pm-ish, I noticed it was practically empty. A possible sign so early in the evening, but my attention was quickly turned to my fellow foodies, I sat down with them and we surveyed the menu.

We started with hot Turkish bread (the steam still rising from the bread basket!!), plus hummus and cucumber dip. Speaking as someone with a Mediterranean background, there are few things in life that are more inviting than hot, fresh bread served with dip, or sauce!

Next up were our sides (or mezeler); Baked Eggplant, chunks of oven baked eggplant, topped with yoghurt with homemade tomato salsa and Grilled Haloumi. Honestly, I didn’t think much of the Baked Eggplant; I found it quite dry whereas the Grilled Haloumi was nice with that squeaky texture and mint and lemon taste all the way through.

For our main course, we ordered a few platters of mixed grills which included doner slices, skewered chicken and lamb shish kebab, premium minced kofta and spring lamb cutlet served char grilled on a bed of pilav rice with a side of garden salad.

The doner and the koftas were disappointing; the doner was dry with not much taste and the kofta really lacked that spicy kick, so I felt a little awkward for recommending it so ardently. However the skewered chicken and lamb shish kebabs were nicely marinated and tender. The real highlight of the platter for me was the lamb cutlet; mouth-wateringgly tender and succulent.
Onto the desserts: In the interest of variety, we ordered Rice Pudding, Baklava, Turkish Delight (my choice) and Halva (this is a popular dish in Turkey and most of the region; it’s made up of a tahini base blended with chocolate, nuts and honey.

The Turkish Delight dessert arrived as two icing-sugar-coated cubes each impaled by toothpicks. Not too sure exactly of the purpose of the toothpicks were because either way, I was going to end up with an icing sugar beard and moustache anyway, never mind getting the icing sugar on my fingers which would be the least of my concerns. The taste and texture of the first delight was lovely with a very subtle rose flavoured sweetness. Then I bit into the second one ... before I go on, I should explain I have an allergy to brazil nuts so by default I’m very careful around all nuts when I’m dining out. Therefore, I wasn’t delighted to find traces of nuts in my Turkish delight, which I wasn’t expecting at all. Regrettably, I had to put it aside; better to be safe than sorry I guess.

The dessert highlight for me was the rice pudding; beautiful texture and laced with cinnamon sweetness. I was told that the Halva was pretty good.

However, the baklava pastry was practically raw and somehow possessed a taste and texture that barely resembled baklava. It ws presented well, though.

For me, the staff at Arda lacked a sense of generosity and there was no real sense of celebration and community that normally accompanies dining in a Turkish restaurant/cafe. I have dined at many a Turkish restaurant/cafe/kebab house and feel somewhat disappointed because Arda failed to meet the mark on this occasion.

I grabbed a takeaway menu as we were leaving. Looking at it now I noticed the slogan “The Healthier Tastier Cuisine” Since 2004. From this experience, I would say they possibly got the healthy aspect of it right as I walked away from Arda without that greasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well I guess that’s something. Overall, my culinary experience at Arda was nice, but not as nice as it could have been.

Service: 5
Ambience: 5.5
Food: 6.5
Price: 6

619 Glen Huntly Road
Caufield VIC 3162
Tel: (03) 9530 0193

Arda Turkish Cuisine on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

I don't agree with you on any part of your review.
I have been going to Arda since 2006 and I often go to Turkey for work.
If you want your meat rare go to a steak house and if you want your baklava dry, go to a Lebanese shop because as you should know if your such a critic Turks make it differently.
I cant believe that you think your so important that you take a camera out to eat with you.
Your a pessimist and your review sucks and you have no right to be rubbishing this business or its lovely operators.

Cate said...

Andrew, I think that her review was honest and by taking photographs of the food (as every foodie blogger does these days) she was providing evidence to back up her opinion. I'm surprised the blogger allowed your comment to stay up when you attack her opinion in a very shallow and juvenile way. Maybe you should read a bit closer to the praise she gives the fare before jumping to outrageous conclusions about how important she thinks her blogging is.

Les said...

I agree totally with Kate. I dined at Arda tonight, after giving it a second chance, and was totally disappointed. The photos above really do the food justice, we did not receive anything like that. The meat was dry and inedible. Dips were tasteless and the bread was overdone and dry. Never again!!

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