Review: Dinosaur café
This restaurant’s exterior and name hardly gives off Michelin star vibes (please don’t call me a snob). So much so, that I live across the road from the place, and this is the first time I decided to try it. I was blown away by the menu. It’s fantastically priced and has wide-ranging options catering for gluten-free and vegans.
The starters range from £2-£5, and would serve as perfect lunch-size portions, or you could pick a few for a main meal meze. I shared a falafel plate with my date, which came with pitta pockets, hummus, salad, and pickled beetroot.
The generously-sized main meals are all £7.60. I had a delicious dish called karniyarik, which is aubergine stuffed with lamb mince. It was accompanied by sticky rice, and a flavoursome salad. My date had the dinosaur mixed salad, which had a big spoonful of all the salads the restaurant sells. My particular favourite was the courgette and feta fritter. This was washed down with a Turkish coffee, which is incredibly sweet and strong.
I could not recommend this restaurant more, with its friendly, family-orientated atmosphere, and for the delicious Turkish delicacies. I’m intending to return by myself to enjoy the good food, and a good book. The only problem was that many of the dishes I wanted to order were not available (such as the stuffed vine leaves and baklava), but I guess that is testament to how fresh the dishes are.
Learn how to create your own meze-style spread. Sociable small plates of bread, dips, kebabs and vegetables which are just meant to be shared. These can all be made in advance, and served with warmed shop-bought pitta breads.
The following dishes will serve 4.
The creamy chickpea puree is a staple of the Middle East. I’ve given you a mega cheap recipe to make classic hummus, but once you’ve mastered it, try experimenting with flavours such as caramelized onion or lemon and coriander.
This will give you gorgeous, fresh hummus for days. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- 1 tbsp of tahini
- 1 400g can chickpeas – keep the juice!
- 1 garlic clove
- Sprinkling of chilli flakes (or fresh chilli)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Optional squeeze of lemon
- Drain the chickpeas, but keep 4tbsp of the juice and poor into the blender.
- Add chopped garlic, chilli flakes, tahini, and olive oil and blend until the consistency is smooth. Feel free to add more olive oil or lemon juice if too lumpy.
- Enjoy hummus for days!
Chilli halloumi flatbreads
- 75g self-raising flour
- 75g Greek yoghurt
- 1tsp crushed dried chilli flakes
- 30g halloumi in small pieces
- In a bowl, season the flour with a little salt. Add the yoghurt, chilli flakes and mix thoroughly until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Disperse the crumbled halloumi into the dough and then divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll out the dough neatly with a rolling pin.
- Fry on a medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
I would not judge you in the slightest for using packet pre-mixed falafel, to which you just add water and bake or fry. These packets are available really cheap from Best One International store, on Sidwell Street. But for those who have more time on their hands, making your own from scratch is delicious…
- 200g (½ tin) chickpeas
- 200g (½ tin) mixed beans
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- Handful of chopped parsley
- 1 beaten egg (not all that necessary if you’re vegan, it just works as a good binder. If too dry without the egg, simply add a little water).
- Fry the onion and garlic until soft.
- Drain the beans and blend them in a food processor, with the fried onion and garlic.
- Remove from the food processor. In a bowl, stir in the flour, herbs, and season.
- Add the egg if needed, but water if not.
- Mould the mix into 8 small balls, then flatten slightly.
- Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan, then fry the balls on a medium heat for 3 mins on each side.
Courgette and aubergine frites
- 1 courgette
- 1 aubergine
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- Salt and pepper
- Very finely slice the courgette and aubergine lengthways.
- Coat both sides in plain flour.
- Fry on each side for 2 minutes in sunflower oil. Season and serve.
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ onion, chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Prick the aubergine and roast in the oven at 180°C for 1 hour, until they are soft. Turn over twice.
- When the aubergine is cooled, cut in half and spoon out the flesh. Put the flesh into a blender with the onion, garlic and lemon juice. Season and blend until smooth.
- Drizzle over the olive oil, cover, and leave to chill before serving.