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Anatolia Turkish Restaurant (Bloor & Dundas) - Disappointing & Overpriced

This turkish restaurant was nice when it first opened, but has gone downhill after receiving all the publicity from Toronto Life, etc..

I have eaten there several times a year for the past 4 years or so and have noticed it gradually getting worse:

- Adana Kebap
One of my favourite dishes. Unfortunately, it tasted like it came out of the microwave. The recepie itself is quite simple - spiced meat, grilled and served over a bed of pita bread, topped with yoghurt, tomato sauce and butter. Anatolia's version: yoghurt that had the consistancy of hot milk, pita bread that tastes like yesterdays waste and dry, hard meat. Seriously, it tasted like someone froze this from several days ago, and nuked it and charged me $19 for it (rip off). I have cooked long enough to know what tomato paste tastes like after being nuked.

- Wine
Do not order wine by the glass here; GF commented that it tasted like vinagar. I am sure it had been fermenting in the bottle for weeks. Although the prices for the bottles are reasonable, it is due to the fact that most of them are <$10 at the LCBO, but marked up to $30+ (300% markup). Better off spending $20 more and getting one of their decent bottles.

-Service
Thank god I ordered beer but the servers are too slow and incompetant to ask if I want a second one, or even offer water. Hmm, most turkish restaurants bring water to start anyways. Anyways - service was poor.

-Cleanliness
There was food and crap under the table, like someone wiped off a bunch of crumbs and did not sweep it up.

That's about it. Turkish food is meant to be simple, fresh and have good value. I don't mind paying top dollar when going out to dine, but I want to receive something in return, like fresh made food, or decent service. The fact that they nuked the food is an insult to turkish cuisine. Oh by the way, I told the staff about my complaint, and they just said "oh its all grilled but let me go to the kitchen and check about the microwave" WTF?

Avoid anatolia - there are better places to spend your $$$$ if you are hungry for turkish food. In fact, go to a turkish bakkal (store) and buy the ingredients and make it yourself - you will do a better job than this restaurant, even if its your first time cooking!

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  1. I've enjoyed Anatolia in the past but haven't been there in a couple of years. I'm very sorry to hear it's gone downhill. What other Turkish restaurants do you recommend?

    1. Actually, Turkish food can be amazing, and the simple grills that most Turkish restaurants here seem to specialize in are the common foods of Turkey. Conversely, "palace cuisine" of the Ottoman Empire is one of the finest cuisines in the world, and is highly refined. I've studied Turkish cuisine a bit, and it's fascinating to read about the foods cooked in the immense kitchens that existed in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul during Ottoman reign.

      Unfortunately, aside from eating good Turkish cuisine abroad (although I've yet to visit Turkey), I've usually made it myself, following a couple of excellent cookbooks.

      It's a shame about Anatolia restaurant. I wasn't particularly impressed on my one and only visit there about 8 years ago, when it was considered by others to be good. There was a Turkish restaurant on Eglinton west of Bathurst a few years ago. The owners were lovely people and the food was quite good, but they were unable to draw the crowds.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Tatai

        Nice descriptions. What would be some good resources for info on Turkish cuisine that might be available locally? Are the cigara boreks similar to the similar sounding Moroccan pastries?

        1. re: Snarf

          Sigara borek ("boregi") are similar to Moroccan cigares (or pastels/triangles). They're made with a dough called yufka, which can be purchased (at Marche Istanbul) already cut into long triangles for rolling into boregi. (They also sell whole sheets of yufka.) One works with yufka as one would with phyllo. I've made sigara boregi with a cheese filling flavoured with fresh mint and dill.

          My favourite Turkish cookbook is "Classic Turkish Cooking" by Ghillie Basan. It's a beautifully illustrated book with gorgeous colour photos of many of the recipes, and contains a wonderful introductory section on Turkish cuisine and ingredients. The recipes are well written, and they work!

          About 10 years ago, when I was doing some research on Turkish cuisine, I visited a Turkish tourism office and/or consulate general downtown on Yonge St., which provided me with all sorts of information on Turkish cooking. I've done a bit of Googling and can't seem to locate it now (Toronto does not seem to have a Turkish consul-general at present). But I have found a site that gives a bit of history and information: www.turkishconsulategeneral.us/abttur...

          1. re: Snarf

            I would also check out any recipes or information on Turkish cuisine you can get your hands on written by Charles Perry or Claudia Roden - two amazing experts on Middle Eastern food/cooking/history.

          2. re: Tatai

            I know this post is long after you posted yours...but someone revived this thread. I know of the Turkish cuisine you mention as I had a Turkish GF 20 years ago and got to taste many of the foods you never see in a restaurant. Many special dishes were available at the Turkish pavillion of Caravan when I attended around 1991. I haven't heard if Caravan running any more, it must have petered out after over 35 years but if it runs again and there is a Turkish pavillion, you will probably find the style of food cooked in the palaces there.

            Anatolia opened around 1990 so it's probably getting tired now and most likely does not have the same owners as when it opened. It was nothing special when I tried it shortly after it opened.

          3. turkish335,

            can you recommend some other turkish restaurants? having tried turkish food in Turkey, I absolutely agree that anatolia does not come close to the real deal however, i haven't had any luck finding any other turkish restos in toronto. on one inspired occasion, i did go to the turkish store at dufferin/orfus and bought some yufka (?) to make cigara borek (?) and it was wonnnnddderrrrffullllllllll! almost like the ones in turkey....

            4 Replies
            1. re: berbere

              I shop at Marche Istanbul on Dufferin, too, and have made cheese sigara borek with yufka purchased there.

              turkish335, please do let us know if there are any decent Turkish restaurants in the GTA, preferably serving more than grilled meats. Is there any place out there making hunkar begendi, imam bayildi, etc.?

              1. re: Tatai

                I can't lead you to a real Turkish restaurant, but consider these:

                Pizza Pide is very good, and gets most of its patronage from a Turkish mosque next door. (Though one could hardly call this "cuisine.")

                Avli, - as a Greek resto, essentially the antithesis of Turkish - had a delicious imam bayildi as of about a year ago (their food has been declining).

                Tahsin Market on Danforth had very interesting house made Turkish deli. They are now in Mississauga, and I haven't been to the new location.

                1. re: embee

                  embee, I've had the imam bayildi at Avli. While good, if memory serves me correctly, it's heavily flavoured with cinnamon, which one would not find in the Turkish version.

                  It's interesting that you mention Turkish deli. It's said that pastrami originated with the Turkish "basturma."

                  1. re: Tatai

                    A number of Middle Eastern meat places use pastirma and basturma interchangably.

            2. Unfortunately this place has been like this for a while. I last went 6 years ago and even then I don't remember being all that impressed with it. I suppose when I know the cuisine inside/out I have high standards. I'll stick to my twice a year trip to Turkey where I gouge myself full of more food than humanly possible and deprive myself for the rest of the year.

              Tatai - Are you referring to A La Turk ( at least I think that's what it was called). I remember going there with my parents but don't remember it standing out too much, although the owners were extremely nice. And no dice on finding 'Ottoman' cuisine in Toronto, haha. Even in Istanbul it is hard to find a good place for that. Forgetting Ottoman cuisine, village Turkish food is at least in my extensive experience much better than stuff you find in the cities in Turkey. I highly recommend you hit that up if you ever get the chance to visit. There was at one point a place called Balkan Bistro near UofT but they moved to London or was it Kitchner, maybe Hamilton... they made stuff like hunkar begendi and imam bayildi, although it wasn't anything to really right home about either. That's a good intro link btw.

              Pizza Pide was good 3 years ago, but portions have gotten smaller and quality of ingredients has gone down in my opinion.

              It's 'pastirma' in Turkish, your rendering is closer to what Armenians/Arabs call it. I'd be doubtful of any lineage of origin on that topic though, possible, but doubtful.

              Unfortunately Turkish cuisine isn't exactly existent here in Toronto.

              1 Reply
              1. re: radiopolitic

                Yes, radiopolitic, the restaurant on Eglinton was called A La Turk. I enjoyed their dips but not their kabobs. The owners, the wife being the chef, were very welcoming and would serve special, more interesting dishes, on weekends.

                I do have to make that long-delayed trip to Turkey!

              2. Sorry to hear about the downhill trajectory of Anatolia - I used to really enjoy their Manti (and the borek of course, totally addictive when made well). It would be great to have a good turkish restaurant downtown that serves the more elaborate dishes...

                1. We split off some discussion about Turkish food in Montreal to the Quebec board. You can find that thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597808

                  1. Has anyone been here recently?

                    Would like to take out of town visitors to dinner here tomorrow. I went a few years ago and loved the food, especially the dessert.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: TOchowgal

                      I was there not too long ago. I wouldn't recommend it, especially for a special occasion. The portions were stingy and the flavours were just off somehow. I got the impression that not much care went into the preparation. Service was good though... although that was never previously their strong suit. I'd take poor service over the food they're serving now any day!

                      1. re: dxs

                        Thanks to everyone for your recent review. Guess I will have to take my out of town guests some where else. I promised them good Turkish food. Maybe I should look into Greek.

                        1. re: TOchowgal

                          Wow, I was just there the other night and really enjoyed it. I thought the food was great. I wouldn't call myself an expert in Turkish cuisine (I've been to Turkey twice though) and I went there with a Turkish friend. I would definitely go again.

                          1. re: TOchowgal

                            You might try calling Tahsin (not sure of spelling). They had a store on the Danforth that got some good reviews and then dropped the retail for full time meat processing. I think they are somewhere in the west end now. They likely supply whatever Turkish places exist and might be willing to recommend.

                            If Persian would do, Pomegranate (College/Spadina) has some very interesting menu items. Much more interesting than the Toronto versions of Turkish or Greek IMO.

                        2. re: TOchowgal

                          I was there last year and found it had gone considerably downhill, sadly, since I loved it a few years back. Everything we ate seemed overcooked, except the chicken, which seemed undercooked.