Ala Turca's famous Turkish coffee. Picture: Instagram

It's a balmy Saturday evening, and I find myself in an enclosed courtyard, adorned with fairy lights and a cosy seating area. The smells wafting out of the adjacent building send my taste buds into overdrive. I’m hoping it’s a hint of what’s to come.

It’s hard to believe I’m in the middle of a bustling Cape Town But yet, here in an unassuming part of De Waterkant is a quaint restaurant that opened its doors less than two months ago.

Ala Turca is the latest edition to the halaal foodie scene in the city, something the city is desperately lacking in. Specialising in authentic Turkish cuisine, the restaurant takes its authentic roots seriously, and even chose a Turkish head chef.

Flying the Turkish flag with pride, the restaurant goes the extra mile to make their diners feel at home. With modern, clean decor, owner Hussain assures me that when he did the layout, he wanted people to have their privacy. The result is dining tables spaced far apart from each other, so even at full capacity, you won’t have that claustrophobic feeling.

The mixed grill platter. Picture: Liesl Hermans

What’s interesting is that Ala Turca has divided their menu into three sections: main course, meze and pide (pizza). They also have speciality dishes which include Tavuk Shish (cubes of marinated chicken drumsticks) and Tavuk Pirzola (chicken chops). If you’re a carnivore, you’ll appreciate what they have on offer. My advice is to arrive hungry.

Our starter consisted of an assortment of beautifully prepared dishes from the meze menu. The platter was large enough for our party of three to share, and mostly consisted of vegetarian dishes. But my favourite was the Icli Kofte (finely grounded meat, onion, cracked bulgar and spices). Delicious, and I ate plenty of it.

Fresh meat offering. Picture: Marchelle Abrahams

Most people tend to eat with their eyes, and you don’t need to be a foodie to appreciate when extra care has been taken to prepare a meal. So by the time our mains were served, presentation dictated that all pleasantries went out the window. 

We tucked in with our hands - cutlery was an obstacle that had to be bypassed in order to get the food faster in our mouths.

Tender minced lamb, grilled chicken breasts and diced beef steak made up the bulk of the platter. If there was one favourite to choose, it must be the Mutancana - lamb cooked with dry apricot fig nut mix with rice.

The biggest surprise and, probably misconception, is that many assume Turkish food to be rich and spicy. Ala Turca has blown that preconceived notion to bits. The delicate seasoning ensures that each flavour comes through, enticing you to continue eating. And the next thing you know, your plate is empty.

Chances are this place will start filling up come summer. It’s a relaxed setting for people to come together, share a meal and a shisha pipe or two. Their prices aren’t too bad either - a meal for two could cost less than R500, including drinks.

Visit: alaturcaturkishcuisine.co.za