Restaurant Review: Pasha, Islington
A friend recently remarked that The Single Gourmet Traveller wasn’t doing much single dining these days. But then the blog has evolved from that initial idea of finding great places for singles to eat and stay to offer a lot more. To be honest, I don’t seem to have been doing much single dining so there wouldn’t be much here if that’s all I wrote about! And writing about a variety of things is a lot more fun. However, conscious of my good followers’ comments, and with a trip to the Almeida lined up for Friday evening, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to go to my favourite restaurant for a pre-theatre meal when heading to this lovely Islington theatre.
I used to live in Islington and still have good friends there. One of them introduced me to Pasha three or four years ago and I’ve been going back regularly since – mostly before other Almeida Theatre visits. I also sat outside one deep summer evening when it was warm and mellow and the play we’d seen finished quite early. A glass of wine and a few mezes to share at Pasha was perfect.
Pasha is the current incarnation of a family business that started as one of London’s first kebab houses in the 1960s. Since 1992 it has been a smart Turkish restaurant; sleek and sophisticated yet retaining a traditional Turkish ambience, with music (played at a suitable level) to match. It’s won considerable praise from Time Out and is a favourite of the London Mayor Boris Johnson (Observer, 2008).
It was quite busy when I walked in at about 6.15pm on Friday but I was warmly greeted and shown to a table and made to feel welcome. (The Single Gourmet Traveller was definitely smiling at this.) Given my particular reason for going on Friday night – single dining – it was interesting to see another lone woman tucking into a selection of mezes with some wine seated nearby.
My favourite thing to eat when I go to the restaurant is a ‘Pasha Lite Lunch or Dinner’ – a selection of 12 hot and cold mezes. At £9.95 lunchtime; £12.95 dinner, per person, it’s very good value. However, this is only available for a minimum of 2 people so I pondered over how many mezes I needed just for myself. Help was soon at hand when one of the waiters came over and helped me choose – 3 mezes and some pitta bread. I chose Imam Bayildi (this traditional aubergine, tomato and onion dish is a great favourite of mine), some hummus and Cizbiz Kofte, which were minced lamb kofte on a bed of red onion and parsley salad. The bread was nicely warm and I had a glass of red (French) house wine.
The service was attentive and friendly to just the right degree. There was quite a lot of food and I could easily have managed with just two mezes as I left a little, but they were all delicious and just perfect for early evening before the theatre. It was a good place to sit alone; a nice buzz with a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. But it’s also a great venue with friends and I could see a small party of people sitting there all evening with a selection of mezes coming. There is also an a la carte menu though if you want to take a more traditional route with starters and main courses. I love this kind of food and often choose to eat at Turkish restaurants around London, but Pasha is definitely one of the best.