When a Turkish-style boutique restaurant with white tablecloths, friendly professional staff, live background music and above all, great food, doubles as a French-style bistro complete with a terrace surrounded by shrubs and plants for enjoyable alfresco dining without nosy passersby looking onto your plate, this may be the happy outcome. Welcome to Keyif Adana Sofrası in Ankara’s Güvenlik neighborhood, a gem of a local eatery.
For starters: a mini-guide to Turkish cuisine
After my family had made its maiden journey to Ankara I had picked up a very informative booklet, which had first been published in 2002, from the General Directorate of Press and Information at the Ministry of Tourism, “Turkish Cuisine.” The original manuscript was written in an inimitable fashion by Professor Fahriye Sancar. “Turkish Cuisine” is a publication everyone should have at home for a crash course in almost everything one needs to know about Turkish food, how it is prepared and which drinks may accompany it.
What makes Adana kebab so special?
According to Sancar, the cuisine of Adana is recommended for its grilled meat dishes, in particular Adana kebab. This dates back to times “when the nomadic Turks learned to grill and roast meat over a fire.” Named after the city of Adana in southeastern Turkey, it essentially about spicy, skewered ground meat.
As a hallmark of, and as a goodwill ambassador for, this regional tradition, Adana Keyif Sofrası offers a choice of kebabs that defy the unfortunate overseas impression that kebabs automatically mean fast food. In this restaurant proper, it is a full-fledged main dish and may come with or without salad and is, above all, very healthy. It looks beautiful on the plate, with the various colors blending with each other, and it creates a homey, comfort-food feeling. History has it that is not only the marinade and seasoning that makes a perfect Adana kebab, but that also where the animals for human consumption were actually reared also does. This is ideally in an organic agricultural environment.
Keyif Adana Sofrası’s kebab and most other regional dishes are prepared according to the same generations-old recipes and come mostly in a grilled version (“ızgara”). If a kebab on its own is not what you fancy, try their mixed grill (“et sote”). There are chicken and liver dishes available on the menu, too, and the restaurant is fully licensed.
What makes eating out in another town or country even more enjoyable is when good food is accompanied by good live music. At this restaurant it comes in the form of fasıl, a traditional Turkish music consisting of both instrumentals and vocals. Although the group is not available every night, it is more or less on standby for whenever the restaurant gets busy (more often than not) or alternatively, when a group has made a reservation in advance.
A final suggestion: Please search the Internet for a few restaurant-related words in the Turkish language, as the menu is only available in Turkish. Despite living in a globalized world, where we must be international in outlook, we should not expect that every neighborhood restaurant owner or maitre d’ speaks our language, and why should they? I have been to Adana Keyif Sofrası many times, both on my own as well as with international or Turkish guests. Everyone commends it for its reasonably priced, high quality food, and traditional yet not stuffy décor and the friendliness of the staff. Whether you are celebrating a business deal or are embarking on a romantic tête-à-tête, let me wish you “afiyet olsun” or, enjoy your meal!
Starters (Meze Ezme Salata): TL 6 Hot starters: Içli Köfte TL 3
House specialty: Izgaralar, Adana Kebap TL 12 (This is ideally eaten on flatbread.)
Various other main courses, such as the mixed grill (Et Sote) TL 17. They serve diced lamb (Kuzu Şiş) and chicken, too. A double serving of rakı TL 8, ayran TL 1.50 and soda water TL 1 Fruit platter (Meyve) or dessert of the day (Günün Tatlısı) TL 6 During fast-breaking times at Ramadan, an iftar menu is available for TL 25. Popular takeout (Alo Paket) prices start from only TL 8.
Address: Güvenlik Caddesi No 65 D, Aşağı Ayrancı, Çankaya, Ankara (Close to Parliament). Telephone (0312) 4684105. No website yet. Open seven days a week from 6 p.m. onwards. Reservations recommended on weekends.