Turkey doesn’t have the best culinary reputation.
Which is usually why people only eat it once a year.
Turkish food, on the other hand, has an excellent culinary reputation – and eateries like Levantine-inspired, Shoreditch-based Barboun are the reason why. You’ll find it directly across the road from glammed-up hotspot Gloria on Great Eastern Street, and in many ways it’s a perfectly understated, relaxed counterpoint to it: elegant and subtle on the inside, with pared-back dishes drawn from generations of food heritage, led by the Turkish-Cypriot team behind standout Aegean joints Yosma & Hovarda.
The double-height ceilings give it an airy, voluminous feel, and are held aloft by huge illuminated pillars. And of course, double height ceilings mean double height windows which floods the place with light that washes washing over pale wood furnishings, and a verdant row of olive trees scored down the centre.
Everything here’s made for sharing, but some of the smaller dishes include pan-fried red mullet (which is what the restaurant is named after) with a chunky muhammara red pepper dip; some extraordinarily crispy falafel-coated soft shell crab with sesame mayo; and classic stuffed dolmas vine leaves, punched up with garlic yoghurt & sour cherry. The larger plates, meanwhile, includes a whole grilled sea bass with fermented yoghurt tarhana and saffron cream; and a hefty 12hr smoked beef short rib served with the house’s iskender sauce (it’s a tomato & red pepper sauce popular in the Middle East – everyone has their own version). And to wash it all down are Barboun’s inventive cocktails – try the Tea Symphony, it’s a smoky number made with two types of whisky and Turkish tea – or plentiful options from a wine list repping Old World, New World, orange wines and, yes, Turkish wines.
But as anyone who’s ever had a shakshuka will attest, brunch is where Turkish food really comes into its own – which is possibly why you’ll now find it getting served up at Barboun every single day of the week. You can expect both the aforementioned red pepper classic alongside other goodness, like a pulled beef rib burger topped with a fried egg & hash browns; some meltingly good sucuk sausage with baked eggs; tahini porridge with pistachio & sour cherry, and a whole lot more. And naturally there’s also a lineup of special brunch cocktails, too – the ‘Bloody Maryem involves both vodka & mezcal, plus Turkish spices with Nigella & sumac salt…
NOTE: Barboun is open seven days a week for breakfast, brunch & lunch, with dinner also being served on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturday. You can find out more, and book, HERE.
Barboun | 61-67 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU
Got a yen for Turkish food? Get thee to Yeni.