Ala Turca Restaurant, Cape Town CBD
11:00 - 00:00 All week
Price Range (p/p)
Medium | R100 - R300
We spent 2 weeks in Cape Town over December, which meant that Taufeeq had a couple of sleepovers with cousins and aunts that he hadn’t seen in 6 months. This meant that date night opportunities came into play so on one of these nights we headed out to try the new Turkish spot in De Waterkant, Ala Turca.
Situated inside the Rockwell Hotel on Napier street, it’s not spotted from the road, but Google maps did the trick. We arrived after 8 on a Sunday night after spending the evening walking in Sea Point, soaking in the fiery sunset over the ocean and the salty sea air I had missed so much since moving to Joburg. Luckily, they were still open and taking orders. We passed through a casual outside seating area where a handful of people were seated and mostly smoking hookah. We opted to sit inside where the vibe was a bit more date night-like.
I like that the décor inside is not overtly Turkish. Yellow walls with dark wood tables and steel railings give a contemporary feel, punctuated with Turkish lamps, eastern copper ornaments and a few prints on the walls. There was music playing in the background but it was English and did not set the right tone. Some middle-eastern music would have been more fitting. Our waiter was friendly as he took our drinks orders and left us to decide on our meals. We chose 2 mains, Ali Nazik – Smoked eggplant pureed with yoghurt topped with cubes of grilled lamb, and Yogurtlu Kebap – Urfa kebap layer on our home made bread and garlic yoghurt with tomato sauce.
Our virgin Mojito and Pina Colada arrived before our meals and were both really good. I’ve had Ali Nazik before at Eatstanbul, and found the aubergine puree firmer and the meat more like a gravy. This dish was very runny, the meat more like a curry which covered the puree completely so you don’t actually see it on the plate. The curry was tasty and had Indian flavours. I had to ask for some bread to eat this with as it does not come with anything. They brought a wrap but a pita bread would have been better with this dish.
The Urfa Kebab in the other dish was flattish pieces of kebab in a sauce over bread. Here also, you don’t see the bread that is in fact under the gravy. This dish I found the more enjoyable texture and taste-wise.
I find middle-eastern desserts generally too sweet but Zufli was up for trying the Baklava with ice cream, which he enjoyed. I ended off with a Turkish coffee. This was served in an authentic Turkish style cup and Ibrik (Turkish coffee pourer) with a little tot glass of water. The Ibrik (also known as Cezve in Turkish) has been used since the late 15th century and is documented to be the oldest known method of brewing coffee. I love this authentic presentation. Syriana used to serve coffee in these when they first opened but I see they don’t anymore. I hope it stays at Ala Turca. There was no kids menu but I wouldn’t really deem it a place you’d want to take the kids. They stay open till midnight all week, so a good option for the late night munchies, but don’t come looking for a gatsby, k…
Prices were a bit on the high side. Most of the mains average at R150 each. Our meal of 2 mains, 2 mocktails, 1 dessert and 1 coffee came to R550. And a 10% tip was added to the bill by default. On the invoice, it stated that all bills over R200 would incur a 10% tip. This was not communicated before the time and is not mentioned in their menu. I found this was also the case in the Ottoman Palace Restaurant at the Turkish Mosque in Midrand. Makes me wonder if this practice is a Turkish norm? Personally I prefer determining my own tips, if any, and don’t feel it should be a default expectation from a restaurant.
The overall experience was pleasant, but I felt that it lacked a certain wow factor to make it a bit more interesting and a place I would return to in a hurry.