Since moving to Northampton almost a year ago, I’ve regularly passed Marmaris BBQ on my way through town and have always wanted to go in.
Whatever the time of day, it always smells fantastic and everyone inside sounds and looks like they are having a great time.
So I am pleased to say that, when I finally made a visit, it met every expectation.
Functioning both as a takeaway and a restaurant, this intimate Turkish barbeque joint in St Giles Street is set up to please everyone, with the option of the relaxed and airy seating area upstairs, or the busier and more heady low-lit atmosphere of the restaurant below, all draped in exotic Middle-Eastern decoration and alive with the sounds of Turkish music and the bustling kitchen.
Wanting to relax a little after a long week, my boyfriend I opted for a cosy table downstairs and were offered drinks straight away from one of the friendly and attentive waiters.
Even after some time perusing the menu, neither of us could settle on just a single choice from the selection of Mediterranean starters and range of freshly grilled kebab mains, so we dived blindly into the three-course set menu option (£20 per person).
The starter was a “mixed meze” served with a basket of flatbread, but we were a little disappointed that, what we thought would be the traditional variety of Middle-Eastern appetisers, actually turned out to be a plate of mixed dips.
Nevertheless, it was a tasty selection of all the classics, including hummus, taramasalata and tzatziki, and the flatbread was warm, fluffy, nicely seasoned and plentiful.
Soon after, the main course - mixed kebabs with rice and salad - arrived and was set down on a hot metal plate in the middle of the table; a thoughtful touch, which added nicely to the barbeque style of the cooking.
The generous plateful of meat definitely took centre stage and included ribs, lamb and pork shish and kofte kebabs and spicy chicken wings. Each piece was equally delicious and the experience of eating it was improved further by being able to watch the cooks grilling skewers of fresh meat over the barbeque of hot coals right next to us.
Served with white rice, which was plain but well cooked, marinated onion salad and even more flatbread, it turned out to be just a bit more than we could handle - even despite the small starter.
Next was dessert, which came with a choice of either Turkish coffee or tea.
Although the menu suggested a choice between baklava, ice cream or rice pudding, we weren’t actually given the option and were served baklava straight away.
We both felt that three small pieces of pastry didn’t really constitute a “dessert for two”, and would have been very unfortunate for anyone with a nut allergy.
Luckily, however, it is one of my favourites and we both thought that this particular variety was the best we had ever eaten: slightly warmed, gooey and delivered especially from a supplier in London.
The Turkish tea was served hot in beautiful traditional glasses and, when we were ready to leave, the bill came with a complemtentary piece of Turkish delight each and a joke about the mess my boyfriend had managed to make of the table.
All in all, though I perhaps wouldn’t have spent £20 each on the set menu - considering most of the main courses themselves are less than £10 - the food we had was delicious and it was a very enjoyable evening in every other way.
With the fun and friendly staff creating a relaxed atmosphere and the excellently cooked fuss-free food, it makes for the ideal Friday night dinner with family or friends if you fancy something a bit different.
But it fills up fast so book ahead to avoid missing out.
31 St Giles Street
FOOD: Tasty, good starter variety
SERVICE: Fun and friendly
DISABLED ACCESS: Steps to both floors
PARKING: On St Giles Street
OVERALL: Great evening out
TOTAL COST: £40
STAR RATING: 8/10