The scene: If you’re not put off by the slightly tacky exterior, this new Turkish restaurant, situated between Wimbledon and Wimbledon Park Tube stations, offers a great selection of treats, in a warm friendly atmosphere.
It’s cheap and cheerful, and you can relive Turkish holidays with the varied, authentic cuisine, or get sloshed at the cocktail bar and enjoy belly dancer entertainment on Saturday nights.
There’s also a comfy shisha lounge for those that enjoy a post-dinner smoke.
Ambience caters for medium-sized parties who are after a bit of a celebration while wearing a fez hat, but also for smaller groups – expect a less excitable crowd on weekdays.
The grub: A wide selection of traditional mezes, most of which are big enough to share. The halloumi cheese is a particular delight. Set menus are available so you can get a taster of a wide variety of dishes with a mix of hot or cold Turkish mezes, including humus, cacik, tarator, calamari, borek and loads more.
It’s well worth experimenting with a few different dishes and expanding your Mediterranean horizons. Main courses include lamb moussaka, zingy chicken shish kebabs cooked on a charcoal grill accompanied by a fresh salad and rice. There’s vegetable moussaka or stuffed peppers for vegetarians. My dining partner’s lamb kofte is a bit on the fatty side, but portions are generous – those with a healthy appetite will be more than happy. Ambience isn’t going to set the culinary world on fire, but it’s fresh, satisfying and a huge step up from the local kebab shop
Behind the bar: Efes Turkish beer, wine and cocktails. Try the Pomegranate Mojito, deadly Melon Iced Tea or Sloe Comfort Screw With A Kiss. Delightful.
Bill please: Starters from £3.95; mains from £11.95; beers from £3.50; cocktail pitchers to share £18.95.
Verdict: A decent local restaurant, particularly for groups and parties. Hidden away from Wimbledon’s more expensive high street options.
12-14 Leopold Road, Wimbledon, SW19 7BD