THE donner kebab first came to Palma several years ago. There was a kebab place in Calamajor and another in the Terreno area. They were tiny hole-in-the-wall set-ups which I never got round to trying. But about four years ago a Turkish place called Ali Baba opened in Playa de Palma. It served donner kebabs and other Turkish specialities including a magnificent variation on the pizza theme: thin, crisp and tasty and absolutely scrumptious. In the past few months, though, kebab places have been sprouting up all over town. Everywhere I walk there seems to be a new kebab eaterie. Some are tiny, some are huge. All are serving the same types of kebabs and garnishes. Some do savoury pastries and one combines kebabs with a wide range of teas, coffees and sweet pastries. The dozens of kebab places I've seen recently all have a distinct air of the fast food eaterie about them: the kind of place where you drop in for a quick snack or a light lunch. So it made a nice change to come across a real restaurant serving kebabs and a wide range of other Turkish dishes. It's the Restaurante Anatolia in Palmanova and a real Turk runs it. But the important thing about Anatolia is that they serve superb Turkish bread: it's flat, chewy and a sheer delight from the first bite to the last.
I'm a flat bread freak and I simply adore Indian chapatis, parathas, puris, bhaturas and nans. The Arab flat breads are another delight, as are the Mexican wheat and corn tortillas. And some African restaurants in Palma have flat breads which are so moist and tasty that there more like cake than bread. When a Majorcan gourmet friend encountered a really fine bread, he used to say: “This bread is like ensaimada.” But when an ensaimada didn't have the right texture and taste, his comment was: “This ensaimada is like bread.” The Turkish flat bread at Anatolia isn't in the cake-like category, but it's good enough to eat as it is, without butter, oil or anything else that you'd normally put on bread. And that, of course, is the crucial test for any bread: the really excellent varieties can be thoroughly enjoyed on their own. Even so, I'm all in favour of using a little butter on the best breads, or a dribble of virgen extra olive oil. But at the Anatolia there was no need for butter or olive oil, because the bread came with a cold mixed mezze (9.50 euros) which I chose from a refrigerated display unit. They also do a hot mixed mezze, but the night we were there the temperature was still high and we wanted something cold. Before going any further, I have to warn you that the portions here are absolutely gargantuan. Even if you are the last of the big eaters, don't even consider having a starter, main course and dessert just for yourself. If you don't share every dish with someone (preferably three or four) then there is no way you will get through a starter, a main course and dessert.
Two of us shared the mixed mezze, but there was actually enough for four as a starter - and even then some quartets wouldn't have been able to finish it. Then there was the flat bread. It was freshly made and warm and there was a big mound of it. There is no extra charge for the bread, so it is obviously included in the price of the mezze. This is a different practice from Indian and Arab restaurants where the breads are always an extra. The serving, I repeat, was a huge one, so top marks to Anatolia for generosity. The bread is thin and pleasantly chewy and, considering it is made only with flour and water, surprisingly tasty. And it is the perfect foil for a cold mixed mezze. For the mezze I chose stuffed aubergines, stuffed peppers, dolma (stuffed vine leaves), two kinds of beans and humus, the popular savoury chickpea paste. We had a good serving of each dish, so there was a lot of eating here. If two people share it, you won't need much else, so you'd be better sharing a second dish rather than attempting a whole one on your own. I found all six mezze rather bland, which doesn't come as a surprise because Turkish cooking doesn't call for lashings of herbs and spices. If you look at a Turkish cookbook, you'll be amazed at how few condiments are called for. However, this was still a most enjoyable dish and, I repeat, it was the perfect accompaniment for the delightful Turkish bread.
We had started with a lahmacun (3 euros), the Turkish savoury pastry I mentioned earlier. Those I had at Ali Baba in Playa de Palma were served flat, pizza style, with a savoury vegetable topping. The pastry was beautifully crisp. At Anatolia they do it quite differently. The lahmacun pastry is the same as the soft flat bread served with the mezze, and after the topping is layered on, the lahmacun is rolled up into a cylindrical shape. It is very good and comes with dipping sauces which add extra flavour. The serving is a big one, so be sure to share it.
The only dish that didn't work and which should be avoided is the borek (3 euros). In Middle Eastern cooking, a borek is usually a piece of brik pastry stuffed with minced meat or vegetables and then deep–fried until golden and crisp. But the Turkish borek is baked and the layers of pastry reminded me of a stale ensaimada that had been heated up in a microwave - with disastrous results, the leaves of pastry dry, tough and tasteless. It's amazing that the Turkish flat bread should be so memorable and the Turkish baked borek so forgettable. Still, I count my blessings and I'm thankful that the Turkish flat bread was a real delight.

The verdict
This was an enjoyable meal and the prices were most reasonable, always an added attraction. In the end I was so full I couldn't even contemplate a donner kebab, but my dining companion had one and liked it very much.

The place
Restaurante Anatolia, Avda Playa 7, Palmanova. Tel: 971-680015. Open every day for lunch and dinner, but next month they will start closing on Mondays. They also have a takeaway service.

Comments

To be able to write a comment, you have to be registered and be logged in.

* Mandatory fields

Currently there are no comments.