A taste of the Aegean...
11th September 2019
Richard Williams visits the new Turkish restaurant on Grosvenor Road and discovers a stunning venue where the food and decor immerse you in exotic splendour
Konak’s location on Grosvenor Road is an enviable one. Not only is it one of the few places in Tunbridge Wells where there’s plenty of parking nearby, but also the outside seating is some of the best in town if you want to eat, drink and watch the world go by.
Any expectations you have of what Tunbridge Wells’ new Turkish restaurant is like inside are sure to be dashed. Konak’s team, all from the Turkish city of Izmir on the Aegean coast, certainly knew what they were doing when they designed the place and have gone way beyond what you might expect.
This is a stylish and contemporary restaurant and bar that doesn’t rely on outdated Ottoman design references. The clever juxtaposing of seating, all imported from Izmir, is expertly done and makes such clever use of space, and with room for 45 covers as well as a private room for functions at the back, this is a place for all occasions.
Under starters orders
But it is the food that sings loudest at Konak. And what an array. If you have not come across meze before, just think tapas with more of a Mediterranean kick. But it is the sheer variety that is impressive, and the depth of flavours the chefs manage to cram into both the hot and cold plates.
‘This is not a place to dash into for a quick bite, but somewhere to splurge and spend a few hours taking advantage of perhaps the best hospitality the town has to offer’
Some of the stand-out dishes include Imam Bayildi (£4.75), an aubergine stuffed with peppers, onions and garlic that is as refreshing as it is light, while the Saksuka (£4.75), another vegetarian aubergine dish, has such incredible flavours it will impress even the most ravenous of carnivores.
The main event
If kebabs are your thing, the Mangal traditional Turkish grill selection (£11.95-£16.95) is as good as any you’ll taste elsewhere, but it is the traditional dishes and seafood menu that captured our eyes.
The locally sourced fish is done exceptional justice, with salmon, sea bass and bream (all £16.95) grilled on the Mangal and delicately seasoned so as not to overpower the freshness of the fish.
The crispy fried Calamari (£15.90) is also some of the best that is served up locally, and the largest.
For the meat lover, the Kleftico (£13.90), a traditionally flavoured braised shank of lamb, is as hearty as it is crammed full of Mediterranean flavour.
The most important thing you will need when visiting Konak is an appetite. Thanks to the warm and friendly team, the relaxed décor, and the endless plates of food, this is not a place to dash into for a quick bite, but somewhere to splurge and spend a few hours taking advantage of perhaps the best hospitality the town has to offer.