Ali Ocakbasi, Leicester Square

And so they’ve finally arrived; Ali Ocakbasi, Anatolia grill specialist with their third European opening (after Vienna and Amsterdam).

And what a spot to enter the London food scene on; right on the cusp of Leicester Square, I don’t think you could be more central if you tried.

Not usually an area known for quality cooking; we are talking tourist heavy, high footfall and generally overpriced. Has Irving street finally lured a quality establishment?

Well, in short, yes.

It would be very easy to keep prices high and service low given the gem of a location this new opening has found, but Ali Ocakbasi instead goes for consistency throughout.

The menu is large and authentic; some lovely spice mixes throughout and plenty to choose from for pretty much every dietary requirement around.

Starters are around the £6 mark and they’re fun to share and generous in size. Think hummus, various filo based goodies and a roasted aubergine dip that’s particularly good- the pita breads are also incredibly pillowy soft and make a comforting vessel for mezze.

View this post on Instagram

𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘆 | Recently I visited @aliocakbasi, bang in the heart of Leicester Square. Well, technically just off to the side, so more like the pulmonary artery of Leicester Square (that jokes for all the science geeks out there). Sometimes you can be pulled into a trap of a restaurant in an absolute tourist hotspot where you pay over the odds for rubbish food, but Ali Ocak definitely deliver. The menu is split traditionally into your cold and hot mezze’s, Pide’s, and the grill. So we went for a dish from each. We went for the hummus with pastrami, which I’m passing all responsibility to @taradvisor for. I’m not sure if this was a case of the pastrami being on top, or if the hummus was cooked, but the hummus was hot. The pastrami was really nice, but I wasn’t sure about the hot hummus. I’d say maybe stick to the traditional cold hummus. Next up was the Sigara Böregi, which we absolutely LOVED. They are deep fried pastry rolls filled with cheese and parsley. I’d snack on these 24 hours a day and I’m currently on the hunt for them in turkey as we speak. (I’m not, I’m sunbathing in 34° weather). We went for quite a plain Pide by just having cheese, it was nice. There’s lots of options with toppings but we kept it simple. In all honesty this wasn’t the best day for me, I had been up at 3am throwing up from the sheer volume of food I’d eaten that weekend so I didn’t want to go OTT. We then shared the Karasik Tabak, which is a kinda mixed grill of spiced bbq’d chicken, bbq beef loin, and ground minced lamb. The meat was really nice and juicy, marinated very nicely, and that soggy meaty bread at the bottom is what we all live for, isn’t it? There’s nothing better than a soggy pitta full of meat juices. So you’ve got really good food here in a top tourist location with tourist prices. But at least you can leave knowing that you haven’t been robbed and had a bad meal. . . . #EEEEEATS #eater #eaterlondon #food #foodporn #yum #instafood #yummy #eating #foodpic #foodpics #foodgasm #foodstagram #london #foodie #lovefood #buzzfeast #foooodieee #eatfamous #eatingfamous #devourpower #certifiedgrilllover #turkishfood #leicestersquare

A post shared by The Burger List (@theburgerlist) on

Mains are mostly grilled based; various marinated and spiced meats- but it’s their lamb shish which melts on the tongue that’s the clear winner.

View this post on Instagram

Classic pide with cheese & Anatolian sausage && lamb shish.

A post shared by Véro Falconer (@london_food_editor) on

There is a large pide menu (think pizza but better) which has locked down an excellent ratio of seasoned dough, cheesey-herby filling and all the toppings you could possibly want. They’re delicious and worth going for alone.

So all in all, if you’re craving what is quality mezze and you find yourself somewhere central, this is a pretty good shout and worth tasting first hand.