Hala may be a simple eat-in or takeaway joint, but it has always been smart. Waiting staff wear black waistcoats and yellow ties, while the ladies sitting in the window hand-rolling gözleme (filled crêpes) sport matching white T-shirts and hair nets. A revamp has reinvigorated the place a little, but the food and the welcome remain blessedly unchanged.
Everything has visual pizazz. Excellent mixed meze came in a colourful arrangement on the plate: houmous as grainy as grits sat next to a relatively restrained tarama; butter-rich cacık nudged a mellow aubergine salad (patlıcan salatası). Cubes of fresh white cheese and some zingy but mild ezme (tomato salad) completed the picture. Our waiter scooped froth on to a glass of ayran, before poking a pink straw through the lot. The three ‘daily dishes’ – stews and pasta – can be served as a mix.
Knowing Hala’s generosity, you’d end up with more than your fair share of each. But the grill is the main attraction. Even if alinazik was short on puréed aubergine it mattered little, so succulent was the lamb. Mixed kebab platters come on huge plates, and there are a couple of grilled fish options too.