Saray Restaurant, Cardiff – A Review of the Turkish Restaurant
I’ve always found City Road Cardiff to be a bit of a disappointment when it comes to good restaurants. In my view it was just littered with student tailored takeaways and it’s never really had much appeal for me. I’m clearly showing my age!
That was until I discovered, Saray! An unassuming Cardiff restaurant on City Road which serves up delicious, freshly prepared, authentic Turkish food. The Cardiff Restaurant has been open since 2015, but somehow I’d not noticed it before.
When I say discovered, I was actually invited along to Saray Restaurant for a hands-on cooking demonstration. And of course to sample some of their dishes. I was joined by the lovely local bloggers, Kerry Louise Norris, Globetrotter GP and Reduced Grub. We all had a great time having a go at making the dishes and tucking into them afterwards.
Selma, the wife of the husband and wife team, and Turkish owners of Saray Restaurant, was very welcoming indeed. Most of the kitchen and service staff had worked there pretty much since it opened and there was a real ‘family run’ feel to the place.
The restaurant itself is tastefully furnished, and the food was served in some lovely Turkish style crockery. The tea cups were gorgeous.
It was nice to see that everyone at Saray Restaurant was was passionate about their Turkish dishes. They were all really proud to show that all the food was cooked from fresh. All dishes we tried were authentic and most importantly very moorish.
Sampling the Turkish Delights…
I first tried some traditional Turkish tea and a freshly made baklava. The baklava was oozing with a sweet lemon syrup. What can I say but – Yum! First impressions were very good and I don’t usually have a sweet tooth.
As part of the cooking demonstration, we were first shown how the restaurant makes its own kebabs. I suppose I was sceptical at first on seeing a tall silver skewer. It just conjured up images of greasy kebabs rotating around with unappetising processed meat. But thankfully, this is not the case at Saray restaurant.
Saray restaurant make their kebabs from fresh. They do this by layering upon layer of tons of marinated chicken thighs until the skewer is full, and then topping it with oranges and other fruit for decoration. We had a go ourselves. We had to be careful to skewer the thighs skin side up only and pressing down firmly to ensure there were no gaps. Trust me, this was not as easy as it may sound.
With no time to rest, we were then shown how to make Adana, a spicy minced meat kebab from the south of Turkey. We put Lamb pieces through a meat mincer and then combined with very finely chopped onion, red pepper and parsley. Then we added some salt and chilli flakes, and with a slightly oiled palm, moulded them into a ball around the skewer and gently shape it along its length.
It was harder to do than you might think, and ours didn’t quite look like they should. But hey, its all in the taste. The kebabs were then grilled on a charcoal barbecue, turning until browned and slightly charred.
We then made a Turkish flatbread speciality called Pide. A Pide is essentially like a Turkish pizza. We divided the pre-prepared dough (which has been made from scratch) into small pieces, gently rounded them, and then rolled them as flat as we could into an oval shape. We finished them off by adding some tasty toppings.
For meat lovers, the topping was Kiymali (minced meat) comprising minced lamb, onion, red and green peppers, salt, pepper, parsley, cumin, oregano, paprika, and vegetable oil. For veggie lovers, it was wilted spinach, peppers, red onions, feta and mushrooms mixed together.
After all our hard work it was time to tuck into lunch. The two other guests invited for the cooking demonstration sampled the Adana kebab which we had made together earlier, while I tucked into the veggie Pide.
We also tucked into a lovely selection of mezzes – salsas, hummus and aubergine with savoury oiled breads to dip along with some delicious Turkish grilled cheese (think halloumi like) and savoury filo pastries with feta cheese.
Despite being suitably full I did manage to squeeze in another delicious Baklava and Turkish tea to finish off. Well it would have been rude not to.
Our Verdict of Saray Restaurant…
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and can’t wait to go back for more. I was really impressed at the quality and freshness of all the ingredients used. Having a quick look at the menu there is plenty of choice too, with starters from £3.00 and mains from £8.00. Plenty of new dishes to try next time I visit.
I must confess that other than eating at Lezzets Authentic restaurant and eating out on holiday when I visited Turkey, I haven’t really sampled that much Turkish food. Having now been to the lovely Saray restaurant, I will certainly be trying more of it. I can’t wait to take a stroll down City Road very soon to sample more Turkish delights at this hidden gem.
Saray Restaurant Website: www.sarayturkishcuisine.co.uk
Telephone: 029 2049 4943
Address: 164 – 166 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3JE
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 12:00 – 11:00 p.m., Friday to Saturday 12:00 – 12:00 a.m.
Post Author: Alison Sandford
Disclosure: We were invited to Saray restaurant for the cooking demonstration. However, we were under no obligation to write a review.