The Ottomans

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The Ottomans gets plenty of competition in this busy part of Finchley, but we reckon it has the edge for both food and decor. The dining room looks almost romantic when lit for dinner, and during the day is spacious yet cosy, with brown walls, mirrors, smart chairs and well-spaced tables. A mural of boating scenes and a collection of ornate lights underline the Turkish heritage. Service from black-clad staff is gracious. Lunchtime sees a bit of takeaway trade and, most appealingly, special meal deals. We opted for a £6.95 spread of seven meze and main courses. All the dishes sang with freshness, but smoky patlıcan esme (aubergine dip with yoghurt and green peppers), cacik, and crisp, parsley-flavoured falafel were especially good. Mains, garnished with dried dill, were also appealing: tangy and smoky chicken sis with vibrant salad and light-textured rice, and juicy ínegol köfte made with minced lamb, cheese and herbs. Refreshing Efes beer was the only accompaniment needed, though a few wines and raki are available. Among the advertised sweets are kadayıf (shredded pastry baked in syrup), fırında sütlaç (oven-baked rice pudding), and kayısı tatlısı (yoghurt-stuffed apricots).

Venue name: The Ottomans
Address: 118 Ballards Lane
N3 2DN
Opening hours: Meals served noon-11pm daily.
Transport: Tube: Finchley Central tube
Price: Main courses £5.90-£12.50. Set lunch (noon-4pm) £6.95 2 courses. Set dinner (4-11pm) £15.90 3 courses incl coffee. Set meze £3.50 per person (minimum 2).
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