By Benjamin Joseph

It’s all Greek to me but The Ephesus is very definitely a Turkish restaurant and it’s become a firm favourite in Huddersfield’s town centre dining scene.

‘Ephesus’ is an ancient city located in present-day Turkey. It was once considered the most important city in ancient Greece and even plays host to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; the temple of Artemis.

The rich and varied history of this Greek-Turkish city shines through in the menu and décor at the John William Street restaurant, at times taking you on a journey around the Mediterranean, and all just a stone’s throw from St George’s Square.

The frontage is simple and uncomplicated, ‘The Ephesus’ beaming in bright red lettering, whilst also clearly highlighting ‘Turkish Restaurant’, doing away with any confusion that may arise given its namesake city’s complicated past.

The décor contrasts the frontage. It is an eclectic blend of modern and classic Turkish décor. Modern elements such as the chairs, tables and lighting are carefully interwoven with classic Turkish elements such as the unique tiling, vintage wood and poster frames showcasing the sights at Ephesus, such as the temple of Artemis.

The service was polite and attentive, quite an easy task given our time of visit… a Monday evening, hardly the prime dining hour.

That being said, it was encouraging to see a steady stream of customers throughout the night, especially considering the challenges that face the hospitality industry at present. This is reflective of the service and food they provide.

Rather uncannily the menu is somewhat reflective of the history of the city of Ephesus, providing dishes such as; Pizza (Ancient Rome), Spanikopita (Ancient Greek) and a plethora of Turkish classics (Ottoman). The menu is diverse enough to provide something for every palate without detracting away from the Turkish heart of the restaurant.

We started our meal with a portion each of Falafel and Halloumi. Falafel, to me at least, is one of those dishes where it is readily available but rarely exceptional.

This falafel didn’t quite change my opinion. However, they were seasoned well and had a crunchy crisp outside and were soft inside.

The hummus that accompanied the falafel was the real deal. Hummus has become a fridge staple for many – and with the plethora of varieties out there (Marmite hummus… yes really!) – a traditional hummus has to shine to be memorable, and this did just that!

It was zingy from the garlic and lemon but balanced well against the earthy mellow notes of the tahini it helped bring together all of the individual elements on the plate.

The halloumi starter was simple but effective, with big triangles of fresh halloumi deep fried to a golden crisp, served on a bed of mixed baby leaf.

Both starters were served with an accompanying piece of traditional Turkish bread, cucumber, tomato and a dollop of cacik (think Turkish tzatziki with added herbs) great for sharing and nibbling among the table.

Next up came the mains, my dinner guest for the evening was my dad, he’s rarely seen straying away from English staples and once described prawn crackers as “peppery.”

I had warned him to come open-minded. After an extended viewing of the menu he had decided to order the lamb cutlets, I myself opted for the vegetable “Pide.”

The lamb cutlets were seasoned in a blend of Turkish spices and served with salad, traditional flatbread and a Turkish “pilaf” style rice. The rice was a blend of three including bulghur wheat, cooked in chicken stock and olive oil, the flavours married together well and the rice was incredibly moreish.

The lamb cutlets were thick and juicy and cooked to a medium over the charcoal grill, which imparted a lovely smoky taste to the lamb.

The pide (think Turkish pizza) was filled with a blend of roasted vegetables, mozzarella and halloumi cheese in a sort of elongated half-folded pizza crust. The crust was crisp and well-cooked and chock full of fillings, the halloumi is the key player here providing a nice bite amongst the soft roasted vegetables.

The pide was served with cacik yoghurt sauce and a little pot of spicy ezme (mashed chilli, tomato and olive oil dip). One Trip Advisor contributor suggests that Ephesus plays host to “The best Pide outside of Turkey.”

We rounded off our experience with a portion of homemade baklava, lemon cheesecake and Turkish coffee. The cheesecake was a mountainous portion topped with ‘squirty’ cream and fresh strawberries, it was tart and creamy but much too big to finish by this point!

The baklava was crisp and syrupy, filled with bright pistachios and accompanied by more of the ‘squirty’ cream. I do wish I had a choice of cream or not. I find the aerosol squirty cream too sweet and processed, and it took away somewhat from the nuance of a good piece of baklava.

The Turkish coffee rounded the night off. I was worried when it arrived that it might be too strong, being more of a fan of a nice flat white, however, despite this, it was subtle and mellow and you could taste the different notes of chocolate and caramel in the coffee.

The Verdict:

The Ephesus, 52 John William Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1ER. Website HERE. Tel: 01484 544454.

Bill for two: £48.95

We had inadvertently taken advantage of a midweek evening discount and received a starter and main for £17.50pp

Baklava: £5.50

Lemon Cheesecake £5.50

Turkish Coffee: £2.95

Rating out of five:

Food: 4.5

Service: 5

Atmosphere: 4