Skewd Kitchen (Anatolian) – CockfostersHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu • Alcohol served
Skewd Kitchen is an award-winning restaurant that maintains and cooks what it calls “the rich heritage of Anatolian cuisine”.
Located in North East London’s Cockfosters, this modern eatery has certainly made a name for itself since opening in 2013, with owner, Mazlum Demir, winning the British Kebab Awards Best Young Chef in 2015, before being awarded Chef of the Year at this year’s ceremony.
As you can imagine, thus, we had high expectations of this place going in, particularly with its bold claim that “no other Turkish restaurant can boast our originality, heritage and standard in terms of cooking, presentation or style”, and of it “breaking down the boundaries between classical techniques and contemporary methods from all over the world, in one kitchen”.
If the outside is anything to go by though, then its bright and confidently bold shopfront, coupled with its smart, elegant decor, which includes an eye-catching wall-mounted crystal feature near the front, certainly lends a weight of confidence to said claims.
With a capacity of a 150, Skewd is one of those restaurants which, with the help of the stereo turned up fairly high, manages to create a vibrant and lively atmosphere while cleverly utilising all its available space.
Hence, while seating near the entrance is a little intimate, the tables towards the back and beyond the large alcohol bar, which some may find a little in-your-face, offer more space for maneuver.
In no time, the dough baloons into the above before being sprinkled with rosemary, sesame and caraway seeds.
Soft and fluffy as you’d expect, and extremely enjoyable, with a clotted cream accompaniment.
These well presented fruit mocktails, especially those small and quaint glass jars, definitely generated a mixed response, particularly when it came to the Homemade Pomegranate. This is one of those that you’ll either like or you won’t, with one Lion enjoying it for its fresh vibrancy, and another considering it subtle and insipid.
The intensity of the sharp zingy Lemonade, on the other hand, was well tempered by the acidity of the sweet apple, and was, thus, adjudged the runner-up.
As to the Mixed Berry, then while the strength of the fruity, almost sherbt-like, mixture of berries was appreciated by some, it wasn’t rated as highly by the one who stood by the pomegranate.
Acquired tastes n’all!
SMALL COLD MEZE
This assortment of well made cold mezes was enjoyed by all three reviewers, with the Kisir Salad’s incredible flavours stealing the show, closely followed by the salsa-esque Shakshuka and its lightly spiced mixture of tomato and peppers.
The smooth almost paste-like consistency of the Beetroot Tarator had a gentle sour undertone without being overpowering, while the textured Hummus was presented without any squeeze of lemon to it.
Lastly, the creamy Cacik was well balanced incorporating, as it did, grated cucumbers with just the right amount of mintiness.
Superb all round!
SMALL HOT MEZE
While being “lightly floured”, these large pieces of liver were also lightly spiced too.
Succulent and juicy, these, sadly, ended with an unpleasant metalic aftertaste which the fried red onions couldn’t quite mask.
It’s obvious that a lot of thought and attention has been put into balancing out what are, individually speaking, fairly strong and earthy flavours.
The pungently cheesy Honey-Glazed Goats’ Cheese, with its sweet crispy caramelised top, married perfectly with the sweetness of the soft caramelised shallots and the roasted beetroot.
And with texture delivered by the addition of the walnuts, the drizzle of the sharp balsamic sauce brought the entire dish together into a coherent whole.
The intriguingly delicious melody of flavours going on here had us hooked for one mouthful after another.
A simple one this. Crispy packets of pastry filled with a gently spiced mixture that culminated in a few satisfying bitefuls.
As you can see, not exactly your avergae pizza this lahmacun.
Nevertheless, the flat bread, with its crunchy sides, is filled with an assortment of ingredients making this a wholesome little appetiser.
Arguably the dish of the hot mezes.
The beautifully soft and chewy calamari bites had a subtly spiced crispy batter which, when had with the accompanying sweet-chilli honey-like sauce, made for a delicious little morsal. Don’t forget the squeeze of lime over the top either.
There was a difference of opinion over this Grilled Vegetables & Hellim dish.
While one Lion thought the combination of the salty halloumi (slightly on the rubbery side) with the lemony al dente lentils, the sweet well-charred green, yellow and red roasted peppers, and the strong balsamic drizzle, to be “superb”, his compatriot disagreed with the cliche, “Nothing to write home about!”
Skewd has a large, impressive open kitchen at the back with a busy, well regimented crew of chefs.
HOT COAL PRODUCTIONS
Despite one Lion considering this lamb shish to be slightly undercooked, the meat was, nonetheless, rich in flavour.
And though it could have been slightly more charred to ensure a more smoky, barbeque aftertaste, a squeeze of lemon over the top provided a touch of the sour to these succulent cubes.
Please note that the above doesn’t represent the restaurant’s default portions, and was presented thusly for review purposes only.
The finely minced Adana kebab had a crispy, charred exterior; soft interior; that familiar sweet undertone of a subtly marinated Adana; and with a squeeze of lemon over the top, resulted in something quite special.
As to the chicken wings, then both these, and the chicken shish, were again well cooked, and satisfying, albeit fairly small.
PRIME BLACK ANGUS BEEF
Taste-wise, these rib-eye fillets had that mouth-watering meaty taste of a really good quality steak.
Paradoxically, however, although these were juicy and succulent, they were, despite a beautifully charred almost crunchy exterior, a tad fatty beneath and particularly around the edges. It was obvious that the fat hadn’t been properly rendered. Whether this was down to the meat being cooked medium-rare (we’d requested medium) is up for debate.
This has the potential for a great dish which, sadly, this time round, wasn’t quite as well executed as it could and should have been.
DAILY FROM BILLINGSGATE
The showstopper of the evening!
However, this was a case of appearances being deceptive, for although the tail meat was stringy in texture, and the sweeter claw meat less so, the entire thing was so overly smoked as to leave an acrid aftertaste. In fact, so unpleasant was it, that it literally required the entire contents of the sweet butter and garlic sauce to help cut through said harshness.
There was also the issue, experienced by both us and the chef who took over proceedings, of removing the flesh, which had literally become fused to the body cavity and tail shell.
Now, the fact, that this was cooked in the fierce heat of a Bertha Grill could be the likely reason for the two shortcomings. We’d contend that the sheer intensity of the heat was the problem here.
In the end, the playful element of prying out the lobster meat was its only redeeming factor.
As for the chips, then these were far too airy and fluffy on the inside, far too crunchy-cum-crumbly on the out-, with not much of a bite to speak of.
Similar to the above, the Ocean Kebab was also a visual spectacle, with a large octopus tentacle snaking its way across from one end of the plate to the other. Not only had the suckers taken on a dark, inviting colour, but the entirety of it was superbly cooked – succulent with that spongy softness.
The salmon too didn’t pale in comparison. Nice and golden on the outside, with a glistening, shiny sheen to it, this was juicy and flaky and very pleasing indeed.
As for the delicate monkfish, then it had a lovely almost crumbly texture, while the king prawns a touch tougher than they deserved.
Had with the charred earthy cubes of aubergine, the lightly dressed salad, and with the occasional sweet burst of the pomegranate seeds, the entire dish was different and extremely satisfying.
If we had one suggestion, then perhaps a sauce, to bring the whole thing together in harmony, might be worth exploring.
A Blueberry Cheesecake whose sweet biscuity base and mildly fruity layer of creamy cheese, went well with the concentrated blueberry droplets interspersed by a number of juicy little blueberries.
Not the best cheesecake we’ve ever had, but certainly a solid one.
Although a touch dry, this semi-sweet Walnut Pudding ensured the taste of the nut came through well, was comforting without being spectacular, and yet certainly needed the crème anglaise to counter said dryness.
Strangely enough, the cake actually reminded us in taste of the Indian Halwa sweet.
Not only was the Ferrero Rocher ice cream down to a tee in terms of the flavour, but one Lion declared the Mastika “one of the best I’ve tasted”!
If you don’t know, then mastika is, according to good ol’ Wiki, the resin of the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) indigenous to the Mediterranean islands. Known for its “lemony balsam-like smell”, this ice cream did indeed have both a fabulous aroma and taste of lemon, which bordered more on the sweet than sour side.
One of the best things had on the night!
This Walnut Pastry Baklava came across as an odd one. A poorly cut square cake atop a standard baklava, and that too sickly sweet and ultra-syrupy even for our collective sweet toothes, just seemed nonsensical as a pairing.
The Kazandibi’s a traditional Turkish pudding that was recommended by Chef Mazlum himself.
And we’re glad he did too. With a delicately crisp burnt layer of sugar topped with a pistachio crumble, this pudding had a sweet syrup running through the relatively thick, milky underlayer. Very soothing, and a fitting finale to an interesting evening.
Skewd Kitchen has also dedicated significant time and effort, in sourcing a number of exotic teas, that were proudly displayed in an elegant cigar-like presentation case and contained in dainty little cork sealed glass tubes.
According to the information leaflet affixed therein:
We have teamed up with the finest tea producers and selected fine blends and combinations that complement the Skewd Kitchen concept, and the palates of our discerning diners.
And here are what they offer:
(Black Tea) Caffeine
A robust, wide-awake blend of organic black tea leaves. Our take on the classic English breakfast blend is serene contemplation from dawn to dusk.
(Herbal Infusion) Caffeine Free
A tea to relax with and savour by the sip. Soothing Egyptian chamomile flowers with subtle slices of citrus.
Organic Earl Grey
(Black Tea) Caffeine
A regal blend of the finest Golden tip, organic black tea leaves infused with rich first-press bergamot oil. An inspiration to the epicurean.
(Black Tea) Caffeine
Madagascan vanilla blends with Ceylon and China black teas, makes a deeply satisfying impression.
Tropical Green Tea
(Green Tea) Light Caffeine
Smooth green tea leaves are harmoniously blended together with sweet tropical fruits to create a tasteful and healthy infusion.
(Green Tea) Light Caffeine
Refreshing China green tea leaves are brightened with Moroocan peppermint cultivated on the mountain sides of Tiznit.
Chocolate Mint Truffle
(Herbal Tisane) Caffeine
Rooibos leaves with cacao nibs and mint, rich in antioxidants for the perfect guilt-free chocolate indulgence.
Organic Turkish Infusion
(Black Tea) Caffeine
A blend of organic black tea with pistachios from Antep and spices, reminiscent of the exotic bizarres of Istanbul. A light and flowery taste with a hint of rose from Isparta.
We opted for the Tropical Green Tea which, with its subtle pineapple-esque fragrance, was the perfect tonic for all those devoured award-winning kebabs!
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
To this end, Mazlum hasn't seemed to have left many stones unturned in his quest at refining and presenting a sophisticated take on, what he sees, as the large and bold portions quintessential of the Turkish dietary habit.
And while his dishes certainly represent his philosophy, it's obvious that he's making some headway towards achieving his modus operandi. Whether he'll be able to win over the traditionalists, however, is a question only time will answer.
While Skewd Kitchen is ambitious and innovative, there's still room for improvement. Having said that though, if you're seeking after change and a place that's willing to think outside the box, this is certainly worth a visit.
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