Bold Street’s huge Turkish restaurant leaves Ebony Ashcroft feeling empty
DIRECTLY opposite the Bold Street entrance to Liverpool’s Central Station stands a restaurant glowing with the allure of a place you would be much more likely to visit after a night out than before. In front of me, a classic sans serif Wordart font screams "AKASYA", overlapping a striking blue border dedicated to this less-than-subtle Turkish bar and grill.
My mojito is overrun with syrup so it tastes more like a mouthful of gummy bears
I tried to scrutinize the menu before arriving, but Tripadvisor was exclusively the strongest source of information I could find. Honestly, the only thing ropier than a dominatrix’s basement is a restaurant without a website. I know word of mouth is a bigger powerhouse than the mitochondria is to the cell, but this isn’t medieval times.
Anyway, modern-day digital failures aside, I scuttle over the cold street into an overly voluminous restaurant with thinly distributed customers and an even more sporadic workforce.
Grabbing a table at the back, or anywhere we want for that matter, is pure and simple, even though the upstairs section is closed.
Following on from the take-away style exterior, inside Akasya mixes urban ‘chique’ bar vibes (neon wall lights, hanging bulbs, reflective drinks station) with an unromantic combination of brown and blue tones throughout the gaff, including the furniture.
The menus are printed on fresh paper. My inner heart screams at the environmental impact but there is something quite satisfying about having a fresh, clean selection to admire, rather than a sticky pre-fondled list. No one likes sloppy seconds, especially following a hyper-hygiene-focused global pandemic.
The branding and layout are very unsexy but it has all we need to see on there - primarily drinks. Let's get those cocktails, shall we?
Recommendations fall into what I call "Merseyside’s Bermuda Triangle of Cocktails" - the usual suspects that I will never choose to drink and wish would just mysteriously disappear.
This includes, but is not limited to, the pornstar martini, "Sex on the Beach" and a Long Island iced tea. We opt for a raspberry mojito (£6.95) and an espresso martini (£6.95).
The cocktails are smashed out and brought over at a rapid pace. My mojito is overrun with syrup so it tastes more like a mouthful of gummy bears than a refreshing minty pre-dinner taster, the martini giving slightly more caffeine-fuelled promise.
I am buzzing to try some Turkish şarap (wine) so I'm disappointed that the listing on the menu isn't reflected in stock availability. Gutted. I was aiming for the authentic full experience guys, but alas, a bottle of mediocre Chianti (£18.95) will have to do.
The sigara boregi (£4.75) starter is essentially a plate of tequeños. Fried, not greasy, but completely devoid of the fillings in the description minus the cheese. Personally, I’d rather be paying 30p for street food in South America.
The patlican tarator (£4.75) is presented rather childishly, but is creamy, refreshing and tasty nonetheless. The best part is the fluffy bread that comes alongside the smoky aubergine dip, which doesn’t even get a mention on the menu.
Stepping it up a notch for the mains, huge mixed plates of meat and seafood steam towards us in both temperature and speed. We are now subject to a battle of the plates as our starters are still unfinished.
Out with the old and in with the new, we tuck in to tender lamb chops (£14.95) and a large seafood sizzler (£14.95).
Dreaming of a fresh, sizzling, fragrant medley of seafood, I am met by the lacklustre sight of de-shelled mussels, squid rings and peppers. My head would snap back in true Meryl Streep Death Becomes Her fashion if you told me this didn’t come out of a freezer.
The portions are certainly generous and the red meat is the highlight of round two. The best part though is sweet, sweet, Turkish dessert.
If you could package a comfy night wrapped up in your favourite blanket and give it a flavour it would taste just like this warm, syrupy, pistachio packed, pastry layered baklava (£4.95).
I would happily stop for this sugar rush again. The accompanying Turkish rice pudding (£4.50) is lighter, creamier and more flavourful than I anticipated. My palate identifies rose water, honey and something earthy yet very citrusy - I can’t quite put my finger on it.
However, when I ask the waiter to enquire with the chef I am told it is purely “vanilla”. Either the Chianti is playing tricks on me or one of us is very wrong. I trust my tongue.
Overall, Akasya needs time and attention to refine its style, menu, service and produce but I might go back to get in touch with that vanilla harvester.
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Patlican tarator 6, sigara boregi 3, seafood sizzler 4, lamb chops 6, baklava 8, Turkish rice pudding 6.5
Friendly and well-presented but slightly inexperienced / untrained
Albeit calm and spacious, far too big for its boots with a directionless consideration to design