I always knew that the final few months of university wouldn’t be the most riveting I had ever experienced, but stuck indoors writing my dissertation of doom, with only Jeremy Kyle and Ricki Lake for company, the highlight of my sad life had become 5pm weeknights when the influx of cookery programmes begin. Come Dine With Me, Masterchef, Jamie Does... astride the tidal wave of poverty that goes hand-in-hand with being a third-year student, these shows reminded me there is a whole world of culinary happiness outside of Tesco Value and Sainsbury’s Basics. I needed a break and I needed something different.
Grille Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant on Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, is incredibly underrated and can offer authentic, freshly-cooked cuisine for a very reasonable price, particularly at lunchtimes when you can grab 3-courses for just £5.50. The service is second to none and the staff will really make you feel at home.
There is an enormous selection of hot and cold mezes (similar to Spanish tapas) to choose from for a starter, from which my company and I chose to share; Humus Kavurma (£2.95) – humus with hot morsels of lamb and pine kernels, Boreck Peynirli (£3.50), which were small pastry bites filled with feta and herbs, and Kalamar, or
Calamari (£3.50). Within about 15 minutes our table was adorned with a selection of freshly cooked Turkish bites. Whilst we were waiting, we were treated to a complimentary basket of fresh Pide (Turkish flatbread) which went down extremely well with the humus, prompting our waiter to bring out a second basket-full.
It was a bit of a struggle trying to choose something for a main as everything was so unfamiliar, however, I eventually settled on Beyti (£7.95); minced lamb wrapped in lavash bread topped with garlic yoghurt sauce with grilled tomatoes and green peppers with rice. Most dishes on the menu are lamb-based, but if you don’t like lamb there are also a few seafood or chicken dishes, as well as pizzas.
The waiter didn’t seem surprised that we couldn’t finish our mains after polishing of all the starters, yet still proceeded to offer us a look at the desert menu with an amused grin on his face. We politely declined, though a couple of minutes later he returned and laid before us a platter of fresh fruits to share with a dollop of cream– completely free of charge! We were so pleasantly surprised at this gesture and we somehow managed to find a final little space in our bellies for the desert.
After a three-course meal you’d expect a hefty bill at the end of it; wouldn’t you? There was nothing of the sort, and I only had to fork out just over £15, though it would have been significantly cheaper had I been able to resist that glass of wine... oops.
The service was truly some of the best and most personal I have ever experienced, which continued right until we walked out of the door when we were offered Turkish delight to take with us!