29 Green Lanes
London N4 1LG
One of my favourite things about the Green Lanes' Turkish restaurants is the amount of extra food that you get without asking for it. No matter that the portions are already big enough to put giants into food comas, the numerous plates piled with bread, sauces, salad and dessert will keep coming. The bread - pillowy and basted in meaty flavours - is most likely unsuitable for vegetarians. The sauces - sour yoghurt and cucumber and a fruity and fiery chilli - pep or or cool down dishes as required. The salad, a barely surmountable hill of chopped, shredded, chiffonaded and sliced vegetables interspersed with olives and chunks of creamy feta, makes the meal feel healthier, which is important when the plates arrive heavy with grilled meats or pide.
My friend Claire's lamb kebab was a hefty portion of chargrilled lamb that retained its sweetness when it fell apart. It came slathered in a stewey and well-herbed tomato sauce topped with Hala's homemade yoghurt (their churn is by the counter and accounts for how fresh and thick their yoghurt tastes). My pide (Turkish pizza) was a thin base covered in tomato sauce and strips of grilled lamb and then half-folded over. Unfortunately, Hala's pide selection is more limited than many neighbouring restaurants', and many of them come with cheddar cheese rather than anything Turkish, which is disappointing. The free dessert, semolina gulab jamuns, provided a welcomed break from all that savoury meat.
Hala is homey and well-priced, popular with Turks and non, locals and non-Haringeyites. Their hospitality is above and beyond even the usual friendliness of Green Lanes' eateries. For under a tenner each on food, we got what amounted to three courses thanks to the extensive freebies. Chinese restaurants give you prawn crackers, at Indian restaurants it's poppadoms and dips, but the Turkish restaurants on Green Lanes ply you with as many extras as can be fit on the table.