The best Middle Eastern restaurant in the UK is in Southampton

IT’S the family run eatery serving up recipes passed through the generations which have seen it scoop the Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in the UK award twice.

Ottoman Kitchen, which opened in the High Street, Southampton in the spring of 2019, was awarded the accolade for the second time in as many years at the recent Asian Restaurant Awards. Judges praised the superb food, decor and atmosphere.

The business was a long-held dream for restaurateurs Ali Fistikci and Niyazi Kaya. They hail from a small village outside Istanbul, but had been living in the UK for more than a decade and running a top class butchers in London.

A customer mentioned that he owned a stunning building sitting unoccupied in the heart of Southampton. The building, previously occupied by the Ferryman and Firkin pub but unused for many years, was the perfect fit for an authentic Turkish restaurant, the first in the city.

The owners of Ottoman Kitchen pride themselves on fresh quality ingredients, tender meats expertly marinaded and grilled over Charcoal, home-baked breads and of course a warm Turkish welcome.

Guests can enjoy classics such as Grilled Halloumi, Chicken Shish, adana kofte and falafels. Ottoman Kitchen’s own pastry chef also prepares various cakes from scratch every week, from traditional Baklava to favourites such as Chocolate and Honey cake. Drinks include a range of cocktails and Efes lager on draught.

It’s been a tough year for the restaurant, which has supported local charities including the Saints Foundation, Wessex Cancer Trust and Breast Cancer Haven.

They continued to serve takeaways throughout both lockdowns and have reopened with a reduced capacity of 90. A conservatory with a retractable roof allows outdoor dining for five tables of six and the restaurant will remain open over Christmas as well as hosting a socially distanced New Year’s Eve event.

“It’s been a very difficult balance,” says founder Ali Fistikci. “The main thing for us is the staff. We’re really trying to keep as many of our staff on as we can. We’ve probably got more staff than we actually need at the moment, but they’re a brilliant team and we know this is people’s livelihoods at stake.

“It’s about trying to survive at the moment, until we can get back to normal. We have big plans and high hopes for the restaurant once we can.”

  • Pictures by Richard Channon Photography 
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