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A little Turkish Delight

What to do when you’re having lunch with a committed carnivore and you’re being virtuously vegan?

The answer lies in Turkey, or more precisely Turkish food – as we found when we visited Red Mezze restaurant in Newcastle.

Having checked out the menu I knew there was a choice of dishes suitably vegan so I wouldn’t even have to phone in advance or ask for something special to be prepared. I could eat out like a ‘normal’ person. I was already loving it before we even got there.

Red Mezze really is a little piece of Turkish delight and on the day we went busy with an eclectic crowd of diners. Its authentic, relaxed ambience means you can for a little while forget that you’re in Geordie heartland, transported by the music and aromas.

At just £6.50 for a choice of two mezze dishes and a main the lunchtime special sounded a bargain.

We started, by accident rather than design I think, with all vegan mezze, and shared a plate with humus and pitta, saksuka – peppers, potatoes, aubergine in a tomato sauce, kisir – a bulger wheat dish a little like couscous, and broad beans in olive oil brightened up with a blend of herbs. Together they were a tasty mix and just right for starters to share, though the lightly spiced saksuka was voted the favourite.
VV red mezze
I chose the falafel main, having already had a discussion with the friendly waiter who was reassuring that everything I chose was totally meat and dairy free.  My meat eating mate was tempted by the lamb but plumped for the chicken shish instead. Just in case you wondered ‘shish’ means ‘skewer’ in Turkish (the menu is informative in many ways!).

My mains arrived with six sumptuous super sized falafel pieces on the plate, with heaps of salad and hummus dip. Crisp on the outside and subtly flavoured with garlic, coriander and parsley they were a perfect vegan delight.

The servings were generous and so we decided to finish off just with coffee. As he’d opted not to have the traditional yoghurt drink Aryan with the meal I persuaded my companion to go for the Turkish coffee (I’ve had it before and know that it is something you should try but perhaps only the once). He even believed me when he said it’s tradition to down it all, including the thick syrupy bit at the bottom – something I don’t think he’ll be attempting to do again.

Red Mezze is a fabulous find – not just for me as a vegan but for anyone who wants to eat authentic Turkish food in a warm and welcoming place.
Red Mezze is at 36 Leazes Park Road, Newcastle, Tel 0191 261 9646


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