Anatolia is a traditional Turkish restaurant situated in a strip mall, named for a region which makes up most of Turkey. We arrive for their monthly Night of Istanbul, which features live entertainment along with a set menu of some of their most typical dishes.
It’s popular enough several parties are turned away at the door. Chef and owner Ayse Aydemir’s reputation precedes her, a cluster of framed print rave reviews from the Globe and other big papers.
It’s eccentrically decorated in here, tapestries adorning the walls, and we’re seated at a table that looks like a large stump near the door.
The Night of Istanbul prix fixe is $55 a head, and it starts off with five shareable appetizers.
Turkey’s unique location surrounded by European, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African countries means it’s a mashup of culinary styles and flavours. Case in point is the Russian potato salad saturated with mayo and studded with cornichons and peas.
Sitting right next to that is thick creamy hummus, served with pita and laden with generous amounts of oil and paprika.
A sort of garlicky diced tomato tapas is almost Spanish by contrast.
Fried zucchini patties are salty, oily and topped with a little crumbled cheese.
Also nicely oily and salty are squares of savoury spinach and feta burek.
The main dish is a typical plate of kebab, but it’s some of the best in the city. One kebab skewers juicy chunks of grilled chicken and peppers, and the other is a slightly spicy mince of lamb and beef.
It’s served with nicely malty rice and a sour tzatziki that balances out the zesty meat, and the tomato tapas appears here as a condiment.
This whole while a gentleman’s been plunking away at an electronic keyboard, but lights dim and a belly dancer comes out for the main attraction of Night of Istanbul.
She dances flirtatiously around dining customers and even pulls them up to shake it with her. Apparently she and the keyboard player have known Aydemir for decades.
After all that we need a pick-me-up of a little bitter, super dark Turkish coffee to round off our meal.
It’s perfectly accompanied by sticky sweet baklava soaked in honey, flaking away at a touch and covered in crumbly ground pistachios.
Even with a reservation on a weekend night you may have to be a little patient with service, but ultimately, if a packed house, traditional food, and a wild experience you can find nowhere else in Etobicoke are what you’re looking for, you’ll find it all here.