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Anatolian's Turkish Halal Restaurant - WOW!

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A really old thread about Turkish restaurants in Toronto was recently revived. Here it is: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6490... Anatolian's Turkish Halal Restaurant was written about in this thread and, having had dinner there tonight, I've decided that it deserves its very own.

The scrumptious food, the charming, attentive service, and the atmosphere all made for a lovely evening. We were three people and we ordered a lot of food -- a meze platter, a salad, sigara boregi, and kibbeh to start; hunkar begendi, iskender kebab, and beyti kebob for mains; and baklava, rice pudding, and kunefe for dessert. We were served Turkish black tea on the house.

Every dish (including the eight or nine cold appetizers on the mixed meze platter) was excellent -- well-seasoned and very fresh tasting. And the quantities were copious; lots of yummy leftovers to look forward to. Very reasonably priced, as well.

It's so nice to finally have an excellent Turkish restaurant in Toronto. And one with a very extensive menu that includes drool-worthy Ottoman "Palace" cuisine, rather than just the usual kebobs and grilled meats. Already looking forward to our next visit.


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  1. Tatai, I'm really glad that you started this new post. I had posted in the older thread, but was concerned that Anatolian's wonderful food would be somewhat lost there. I've only been once, for lunch, but it was exceptional for quality and price.

    1. I keep looking longingly at the takeout menu I grabbed when I visited the first time. My parents are moving to the neighbourhood and I plan to take out a number of items for the first dinner in the new place. Can you share any details on the mains you ordered? Any standouts among them? I've already tried the meze platter and the lahmachun. I'd like to try a pide next time, but of the mains, what did you like best among the hunkar begendi, iskender and beyti?

      2 Replies
      1. re: 1sweetpea

        1sweetpea, each of the mains was really good, but the three of us all thought the iskender kebab was the best. The thinly sliced lamb doner, which is like shawarma -- made on a vertical rotisserie (not like the chopped and formed crap that gives the word "doner" a bad name) -- was tender and delicious. The lamb is coated with a thick, extremely flavourful and somewhat caramelized tomato sauce, and the yogurt sauce is served aside. It's all atop really wonderfully fried, but not greasy, cubes of bread. So good!

        1. re: Tatai

          This is wonderful to hear! I've been craving iskender kebab since my trip to Turkey two years ago. It's a bit of a trek from where I am, but I'll try to go soon.

      2. Thanks for posting Tatai, I read that recently revived thread and decided to go to Anatolian with my family and parents for Mother's Day and have been meaning to write about it. Wow. We are all eager to return. We had the mixed appetizer and standouts on that plate were the babaganush, caclik, spinach torator and eggplant with tomato sauce (had a nice kick). Actually we liked everything on that plate. My son had the fried kalamari and it was so good we ordered a second plate of it. We shared the gavurdaji salad and it was fantastic. There were bits of roasted ground walnuts and it was tangy and fresh. I could eat that every day. We also all shared the chef's mix and I thought the doner was the best part of that plate but I did not try the lamb chop. We had the lahmacun and I prefer it at Pide on Gerrard plus we had way too much food for six people at this point. We had Turkish coffee in gorgeous cups and shared the kunefe at the recommendation of our wonderful server. It was a sweet, warm, delicious indulgence. The room was lovely and spacious and we had two women serving us and they were helpful, accommodating, charming and made great recommendations. They truly seemed proud of the place and the food. We will be back.

        1. I've now dined at Anatolian's a few times. Zucchini pancakes and Manti are delicious (best shared). I loved the Iskender Kebab. The lentil soup was forgettable. I wouldn't order it again, but who cares? There are so many other wonderful dishes to try. The shepherd's salad is very fresh and a nice accompaniment to the many meat dishes. The biggest problem at Anatolian's is deciding what to order!

          1. Not to be confused with this west-end Anatolia http://anatoliarestaurant.com

            Kebab 49 even further west on Dundas near Kipling is really authentic and tasty Turkish. Not just the usual kebobs. Lots of interesting unusual dishes, many made in their wood oven.

            1. Everyone looking for Turkish food eat here! We visited last week for lunch and the place was empty. Three different groups of people came and left without staying. I think people were expecting something quick like bamiyan kabob. There isn't a lunch menu and with the linen on the tables, you kind of feel like it's a bit too fiddly. (Of course, we went during Ramadan so maybe it will be busier now)

              We ordered the manti and the lamb kabob dinner. The manti was amazing!! so delicious. garlicky and creamy and very generous. My husband ordered the lamb kabob - delicious, generous and meaty. Also we ordered the zucchini pancake - very dilly and crispy. We definitely will be back but we hope it gets busier because its such a good option. (Though I would ask them to consider a cheaper lunch menu with smaller portions to meet the needs of the neighborhood!!) :)

              3 Replies
                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                  It's Halal, so you won't find that there

                2. re: Apple

                  I went there for lunch, and they had a dedicated lunch menu. $9.99 and great value for that price.

                3. It's still outstanding.
                  Went there last night for an Eid Dinner, and it looks like they have replaced their servers. So service was definitely much improved.

                  Food was still good as ever.

                  Manti, Anatolian's Sautee, Iskender Kabob and Adana Kabobs were all great.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: pakmode

                    What are the portion sizes like for the non-Manti dishes you ate? From the pics on their site, the Iskender and Sautee look like a mountain of meat. The Adana looks more sparse, as do some of the other kabobs. Trying to gauge the value of some of the dishes. We were there for lunch, thought it was great, wish to return for dinner.


                    1. re: Deep Puddle

                      Sorry for the late response.

                      Dinner sizes are substantially bigger then lunch.
                      It's fair price/proportion.

                  2. My wife and I went for lunch earlier this week, our first time there. Ordered one of the lunch specials, as well as manti and zucchini pancakes off the regular menu. Everything was very tasty and fresh. Even the gratis bread they bring to your table upon ordering was good!

                    The lunch special is a great deal ($9.99), as you get your choice from two soups (we chose lentil), any cold app or salad from the regular menu (we chose eggplant salad) and the main comes fromm a list of five or six (we chose adana kabob). The meat portion on the lunch specials are understandably smaller than from the regular menu, and come with some rice and veggies.

                    Those zucchini pancakes, though...crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, just the right amount of dill and the yogurt on the side adds a nice touch.

                    Plan to return for dinner, kid in tow.

                    1. Wow! Looked at the menu, not cheap.... still might give it a try although Mr. Roostermom might be less eager than i!

                      21 Replies
                      1. re: roostermom

                        Not cheap, but should quality dishes that take time and care be cheap? I had a sandwich and salad and a pop for lunch at Fran's this week and the total came to just under $21 before tip. That, to me, is a lot of money for something pretty average, at best. I'd rather dine at Anatolian's for the same money and leave having eaten something really memorable. I won't likely be in Toronto for a month or more, but I'm already plotting my next visit to Anatolian's. I really hope that there are enough regulars to keep the place afloat, without having to pare back the menu choices.

                        1. re: roostermom

                          What sort of prices would you expect to pay? All the food on the menu looks delicious, and if you compare it to almost any Greek place on Danforth, the prices for this Turkish food are lower. The prices look pretty good to me, many mains are under $20, and appetisers under $10

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            Considering I can get a giant pizza/pide from Pizza Pide for $10, I consider this a little expensive. Also, since Anotalian is not licensed it lacks a bit of the 'going out for dinner' atmosphere we desire. Mr. Roostermom, although not very picky, likes to spend $30 on an appetizer and entree at places where he knows he will love the food. We also don't dine on the Danforth at the greek restaurants you speak about - over priced, meh. However, for us, $30 at Bach Yen (also 'ethnic' food) goes a heck of a long way and fills us up with homemade, fresh food, while only having to walk 2 blocks.

                            1. re: roostermom

                              If you're happy with Pizza Pide, keep giving them your business. Nobody's telling you that Anatolian's is better for pide. Where they do excel is providing a fairly extensive menu of non-fast food options, in a friendly and comfortable dining environment.

                              My better half and I enjoy wine and beer, but think nothing of trying whatever house specialties exist when alcohol is not an option. It's all part of the experience, no matter what the price point. Many restaurants in Turkey serve alcohol, but just as many do not. I'm sure Anatolian's is just trying to attract the members of the multi-ethnic community that wouldn't dine there if alcohol was served there.

                              1. re: roostermom

                                Pizza Pide is awesome, I agree with you there.

                                But you don't want to ignore the entire gambit on offer when it comes to Turkish cuisine.

                                If you want value, go for lunch.
                                That $10 3-course price is hard to beat.

                                For dinner, 2 entrees will suffice. You will be stuffed. It's excellent value, and I'm a value kinda guy.

                                In terms of alcohol, they will not sell in this market, ever. Thornecliffe Park has a high concentration of Orthodox Muslims and they expect a Halal kitchen. Their interpretation of Halal is hand-slaughtered and no alcohol. So not going to happen. Alcohol, however is common, open and ubiquitous in Turkey and a few Turkish restaurants in the city.

                                1. re: pakmode

                                  Thanks for the kind response. We will try it one day when we're out of the 3 little kids survivor mode!

                                  1. re: roostermom

                                    My kids loved it. We have back a second time, the four of us.
                                    The mixed appetizer platter for $12.99 was more than enough for 4 of us as an appetizer (we also had one other app, a salad and a main but there was a good amount left over for lunch the next day). The kids loved the kunefe for desert but order it while you are having your main as it takes a while to back.

                                    1. re: roostermom

                                      Yeah, you definitely need a drink to get through dinner out with little ones ;)
                                      However, to completely overgeneralize, I find this type of place (nicer non-Western place) is usually really good with families and tends to treat the little ones well. The food sounds amazing, but I also do want alcohol when we go out to dinner (with or without the kids) so I get what you are saying. Still want those manti and zucchini pancakes though.

                                    2. re: pakmode

                                      My friend just worked in Syria and Turkey for the past year and a half and misses the shisha smoking and rakia alcohol of the Istanbul scene. Where can I take her for alcohol in a Turkish environment?

                                      1. re: Food Tourist

                                        Isn't that the point -- there is no place?

                                          1. re: Food Tourist

                                            Have you tried Rakia Bar (Queen E location), TF?
                                            No shisha, but supposedly Balkan-inspired cuisine and, obviously, with well-stocked raki.

                                            1. re: happycamper

                                              Is the Queen St E location still open? The rakiabar.com website is very vague - it mentions an ANNEX location but there is no mention of the Queen St location, which I know had opened in late 2012.

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                I have not been to either locations.
                                                I think you are right though, fD, Rakia's Queen E location (1402 Queen E) is now taken over by Queen Margherita.

                                                Any review on the Annex location?

                                                1. re: happycamper

                                                  I have not been to either, but had wanted to try the Queen St one as it would be closer.

                                                  The odd thing is, if you check their twitter feed, they show the location as Queen St.


                                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                                    It would appear to be a Serbian bar serving food.

                                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                                      The Queen and Greenwood location, below Margherita is now closed-out of business.

                                                      1. re: greenwoodgerrard

                                                        They should have opened it near Pape and Cosburn, there are lots of Serbs living around there.

                                                2. re: happycamper

                                                  No... I haven't heard of many shisha bars other than one on Yonge south of Brownstone Bistro.

                                                  http://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2014/... is an interesting list but can't say I know much about them.

                                            2. re: Food Tourist

                                              Not sure about the experience as a whole, but there are several cafes with patios along Yonge Street between Sheppard and Steeles where you can drink and smoke shisha.

                                    3. We ate there last night (Friday). The food and service were great, the quantities were huge, the prices were very reasonable, yet the place was almost empty. Between 5:30 and 7pm, there were nine diners (three of them kids) and one takeout order for 2 people. Maybe the crowd came later?

                                      I'm no expert on Turkish food, but I've been to Turkey 3 times, and I would be perfectly happy to have found this restaurant in Turkey. We are very lucky to have it in Toronto, and I hope more people will try it so we don't lose it.

                                      All the dishes (apps and mains) are too big for one person, so you need to employ some sort of sharing strategy. Two of us had the zuchini pancakes, the gavurdaji salad, iskender kabob, and choban kavurma -- they were all good, and there were leftovers from each of them.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jjmellon

                                        I was there yesterday with my wife, we had not planned eating there but had returned from north of the city and I had not eaten for 5 hours so thought it would be a good choice. The one appetizer we had was tasty and enough for two but I had issues with the two mains.

                                        Mrs fD ordered "lamb shish" with came with rice, a few vegetables and about 5 pieces of lamb each about the size of a loonie! There was maybe 3 oz of lamb there in total! What a rip.

                                        I ordered the grilled sea bass. (Apparently imported from Turkey, but I have a feeling that is BS.)

                                        The fish was accompanied by:

                                        - roasted vegetables which were fine,

                                        - some very sour red coloured cabbage with was much too sour for me and I like sour. It just had the taste of white vinegar

                                        - small amount of mesclun mix with no dressing

                                        - grated carrot (again no dressing) which had a very odd soft texture and no carrot taste. It appeared to be well past it's prime, there was no way those carrots were grated in the last 5 days! When I told the waitress about it, she said it must be due to the olive oil (there was none on it)

                                        During what should have been prime dinner time, it was maybe filled to 10% of capacity - only the tables around the windows had customers and the ones in the center had none!

                                        The serving sizes must have shrunk since the other postings.
                                        I can't recommend this place at all.

                                      2. We also gave it a shot-I had hope for this place given the reviews here but sadly we were disappointed. The manta was gummy, and the iskendar was VERY oily. From our perspective we will keep hunting for a good Turkish place.

                                        1. Couldn't help but comment here...

                                          My hubby is Turkish and so we're always looking for decent Turkish food in Toronto. We tried Anatolian Turkish about 2 months ago and we have not been back. Our biggest issue was the service. I literally did not get to eat -- they kept saying that my food was on its way (we asked about 4 times and were given that same response each time) and about an hour later, once everyone at the table had already finished their meals the waitress came out and said that they didn't have what I wanted in stock. We really wanted to like the place (my hubby and our dining guests -- also Turks -- said the food was quite good) but I can't seem to get him to go back there as he was so turned off by the service. Hoping they've sorted that out...

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Juniper

                                            I went last week, after not having been since early in the summer. I was disappointed to find that we were the only diners eating in the restaurant (granted, it was 6 pm on a Monday). One couple took out food while we were there.

                                            We ordered the spinach tarator which was supremely garlicky, but tasty. The babaganoush was fine as well. The accompanying bread was delicious, warm and fresh. Our other two choices were less successful. The octopus salad was quite large, but chock full of bell peppers and red onions. It was described that way, but the sheer quantity of raw red onion was overpowering. The ratio of octopus to the produce items was 1:10. It was not great. The Chicken Adana kebab was the weakest link for me. The kebab was sitting on 2 quarter slices of a dry flour tortilla. The remaining 2 quarter slices sat atop it. The kebab itself tasted fine, flavourwise, but the texture wasn't pleasant. The ingredients had obviously been blended in a food processor, so texture was uniform and spongy, not at all the way it would be made and served in Turkey. The vegetables were weak (past their prime yet undercooked), with the exception of the fiery grilled pepper, which was pretty tasty. Again, there was a mountain of red onion on the plate. In my opinion, the best thing on the plate was the rice pilaf with orzo.

                                            We had at first planned to order the stuffed cabbage, but were told they'd just sold their last order and had no more. I can understand this in a busy restaurant, but since the restaurant was pretty dead, it made me wonder just how often they make a fresh batch. They are probably kept frozen until someone orders them and then nuked to defrost and heat them. I can't say for sure, since we didn't get to try them.

                                            I was one of the first to give a positive review of this place back in May or whenever it opened. My guess is that they simply don't have enough business to warrant keeping a wide variety of fresh food in stock. I can't imagine they can stay open for long without enough business to pay expenses. It's sad, because the food was quite good in the beginning. They'd be wise to pare the menu down and try to make a go of it with simpler, but high quality, options.

                                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                                              Yeah, this seems like a fairly typical trajectory for some restaurants - opened by people who are really proud of their culture's food and know how to cook it well, but don't have the restaurant experience to maintain quality with a large menu, out-of-the-way location, slow periods etc. It breaks my heart :(