Honestly, it’s so weird to find Leicester Square so quiet without the flocks of tourists. But you know what? It’s also super nice to not be fighting through crowds and actually get to enjoy the area! Usually, I wouldn’t even take a glance at restaurants and food outlets at Leicester Square as it’s unfortunately mostly tourist traps. But somehow, by chance and completely unplanned, I ended up visiting the newly opened The Bosporus and was pleasantly surprised.
The Bosporus, named after Istanbul’s famous Bosphorus bridge that forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, specialises in Turkish cuisine. Turkish restaurants don’t always have the best reputation with overcooked mixed grills. As much as I love Turkish cuisine, unfortunately, I’d have to agree sometimes. Then, there are the likes of The Mantl, who offers a contemporary twist of the cuisine but lacks a little bit of the warmth from traditional Turkish foods.
It’s not easy to find the best balance, but The Bosporus seemed to be one who’s aiming to achieve this.
The interior of the restaurant seemed pretty nice, following a modern-setting. Since we didn’t have a booking beforehand, they only managed to squeeze us a table outdoors. They’ve got heaters available so you don’t have to worry about the cold in winter months. It was quite nice to overlook the now-quieter Leicester Square and soak up the atmosphere.
Their menu is very extensive, offering a range of traditional mezze (both hot & cold), starters, pide (Turkish pizza), doners and grills, as well as some stew-based dishes, and even seafood, steaks and burgers. Whilst I love a good big menu to choose from, I think this one might have stretched themselves too much!
Here is what we ordered:
Sigara Pastirma (£9.5)
We started off with Sigara Pastirma, which are Turkish fried feta rolls.
These rolls were perfectly crispy and got a very nice crunch. The pastry itself didn’t taste much despite the sprinkles of seasoning on top. It was feta cheese inside that was contributing to this light and savoury flavour. The chilli dipping sauce on the side then offered a more tangy and piquant touch to it, which rounded up the flavours pretty well.
It was a good little starter but not particularly outstanding.
Et Sote (£28)
I don’t think I have really seen this dish at Turkish restaurants around town so was pretty intrigued.
Et Sote is basically like a beef stew, cooked in an Iskender sauce, and then finished with flatbread on top like a pie. The stew was really tasty, carrying rich and warming flavours that just felt perfect in the winter months. I really like the concept of serving it like a pie and having the bread on top like pastry. It’s one hearty dish (big portion as well) and my favourite of the meal. I would definitely order this again if I return.
Lamb Chops (Kuzu Pirzola £25.5)
Then, we also got some grilled lamb chops, served on lavash bread and sided by bulgur rice.
Starting with the lamb chops themselves, I enjoyed the nice chargrilled flavour and crust over the meat. The meat was very tender as well despite cooked medium-well.
Whilst the lamb chops were pretty decent, the bulgur rice on the side didn’t make quite the same impression. It was served cold and the flavours were just not there. Honestly, it was rather appalling, especially when other dishes (and the lamb itself) were all fairly satisfactory and yet you have this side dish that was really not up to par. It was a real shame.
I don’t normally open a new heading for service but I feel the need to mention that their service certainly needs improving. The first waiter looking after our table just didn’t seem to have a clue about the menu. Then, there was this little incident where when asked whether they have lemonade, he answered us ‘no, we don’t do lemonades on the menu”. But then I checked over the menu after and found out there is indeed lemonade and when asking the same question to another staff, she answered us ‘yes’. We confronted about the confusion from earlier and they seem to not quite understand among themselves what was happening. So for that, I’m afraid I’d have to deduct some points because for its price, I would have expected a more consistent quality across the board for both service (and food – yes, I’m still on about the bulgar). Even in between, the service wasn’t that attentive and a lot of the time it did feel like the staff didn’t know what’s going on around.
…I was quite pleasantly surprised about The Bosporus given that I walked in with completely no expectations. I like that they offer more than just the typical Turkish grills on the menu, especially dishes like the Et Sote which I thoroughly enjoyed. It offers a different taste of Turkish cuisine that I find refreshing. Though I do feel their menu was also just too big at the same time and needs narrowing down. For instance, personally, I would scrap away the burgers and steaks because it’s not really their speciality and kind of gives off that “tourist trap” impression!
Following up my point at the beginning of the post, I feel that they do somewhat straddle in between the traditional and modern Turkish restaurant, which I enjoy. It’s almost reflective to their name as the Bosphorus Bridge also straddles in between Asia and Europe, so it’s almost like for the restaurant to connect and be the middle ground of traditional versus contemporary.
If you fancy a meal out at the very heart of Leicester Square, The Bosporus is worth a shot I’d say and I hope it’s not just a hit-and-miss. Hopefully, with time, they can improve on the service and consistency!
All meats are halal.
Nearest station: Leicester Square
Check out other Turkish Restaurants in London:
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