London’s cultural diversity is what makes it a great city, and the Turks have been one of the more prominent and culturally impactful immigrant populations, particularly in the north and east of the City.
Trip Kitchen, headed-up by the former Head Chef of Peter Gordon’s Kopapa restaurant, Selin Kiazim, is at the forefront of the new wave of Turkish cooking, for people looking for more then kebabs and koftes.
Trip Kitchen has opened in Haggerston, East London, which for those unfamiliar with London sits halfway between uber-trendy Shoreditch and uber-hip Dalston. Located in a converted railway arch on the Regent’s Canal, Trip occupies a big space, which is decked simply in raw wood cladding. The look is apparently cool Skandi, but feels more stark-student.
Selin has curated a menu inspired by her Turkish Cypriot heritage, and takes inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours and ingredients. It follows the now familiar sharing-plate system of eating, with tapa-sized portions that allow you to sample from what is one of the most interesting menus that I’ve seen in a long time.
Our starters included Celin’s now-famous Medjool date butter with breads, the former of which was thick, rich and sweet with a touch of salt — and therefore heavenly — and some grilled Hellim (halloumi cheese). For mains we went for the pomegranate glazed crispy lamb breast and yoghurt, and the pistachio crusted cod with preserved lemon butter sauce. Sides of chilli roast cauliflower, pistachios, red onion and parsley, and courgette, feta and mint fritters with sour cream completed the Middle Eastern banquet. The fish was cooked perfectly and worked very well with the crunch and sweetness of the pistachio. The lamb was pink, succulent and full of flavour. We couldn’t remember the last time we had cauliflower as a side, but this dish was clever and tasty. A rich chocolate dessert to finish rounded off a lovely meal.
Trip Kitchen deserves full marks for offering an interesting and successful take on Turkish food. As a restaurant, it probably needs to decide whether it’s a student hangout, or serious foodie destination, and tweak itself accordingly. But that will come.
London’s diversity is often expressed through its food, and Selin at Trip Kitchen celebrates and enhances the Turkish influence on our great city. It also serves as a nice reminder, if you need it, that there is a lot more to Turkish food than kebabs.