Ferah, Tonbridge, 13 March 2020
It’s bonkers to think that five weeks ago, life was completely different. The coronavirus was approaching but we weren’t in lockdown and we could still go out for lunch! I was kindly invited to eat at Ferah, the Turkish restaurant on the site that was Shamo’s and then Portuguese restaurant, Garfo Douro and then another Turkish restaurant, Cappadocia! It’s on Avebury Avenue near Tonbridge library and importantly, it’s still doing delivery and takeaway during lockdown.
Ferah opened in 2019 and this was to be my first visit. I’m definitely a fan of Turkish food – I love all the different textures and flavours – couscous and meat combined with the creaminess of the dips, the moreishness of the breads and zing of the salads. It reminds me of summer holidays and lazy lunches with crisp white wine flowing and a table surrounded by friends. For this lunch, I managed a table surrounded by friends and a solitary glass of white wine but it was fairly chilly and we were all heading off the school run – not quite the same but you can be out with great friends anywhere and you’ll have a good time!
We were greeted by the one member of staff on duty that day. Huge caveat is that the owner had emailed me to try to rearrange due to staffing but I only received it once sat down. Typical. But fear not, she did a brilliant job at multi-tasking and didn’t miss a beat serving the three of us and another table of two.
For starters we chose kisir, cacik and, my favourite, babaganoush and they were promptly served with some delicious Turkish breads. Let the dipping and scooping begin! This is the kind of lunch I love – sharing and picking at bits and luckily, my friends felt the same! The three starters complemented each other really well: the grainy texture of the kisir, the creaminess of the cacik with the hint of cucumber and the smokiness of babaganoush.
The restaurant’s décor has changed a little since I was last there when it was Portuguese restaurant, Garfo Douro but the layout remains the same. I loved the colourful lights that evoke the feeling of that Greek/Turkish corner of the world.
For the main course, we chose from the lunch time deal menu. I asked the multi-tasking chef/waiting staff to choose for me (probably a little unfair to add to her day with this burden, I know, given how busy she already was but anyway …) and she selected adana with yoghurt. The adana was delicious and again, my taste buds were tantalised with mouthfuls of different and delicious textures and flavours. My friends had lamb shish and chicken shish respectfully which came with couscous and rice and side salads. It was all really tasty and I would like to say that there were clean plates all round but we had rather over done it on the starters such was our appetite. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our tummies.
Our Turkish coffee brought to us in gorgeous silver pots was accompanied by these little sweets called kemal pasa tatlisi, sweet but not as sweet as baklava and covered in pistachio. Yum.
We had a great lunch. The food was delicious. The service was attentive.
I spoke to the owner, Mustafa, who told me:
“We want to offer our customers the best service & authentic taste of Turkish cuisine possible. We are a family at Ferah restaurant and we will never let anyone down, this is our promise
We have great plans for the future which we can’t reveal yet. We are trying to be unique; we need to offer our customers something different. Wouldn’t you get bored of the same old things?
Sounds exciting! Thank you for having us Ferah. I would certainly recommend.
This meal was gifted by Ferah but my opinion remains impartial. I didn’t receive a bill but the lunch menu is £9.95 per person for a cold starter, main course, salad and can of drink.