Published: 05:00, 02 June 2022
The restaurant at 109 High Street, Rainham has had a few different guises over the years - The Olive Tree serving Greek cuisine, Eight which offered a modern British menu and a few others which have been and gone.
It is now home to Galata Mezze Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, serving authentic Turkish dishes.
The owners recently applied to expand the premises by building a single-storey rear extensionas they say they need more room to meet demand. Despite opening in November 2019, just before lockdown, and then having to close because of the restrictions, the restaurant has been a huge success.
So we went along to see why it has become so popular.
When we arrived it seemed a little chaotic. The restaurant offers sittings at 6pm and 8.15pm.
So when we got there at 8.15, so did everyone else.
We ordered drinks to have while looking at the menu but it took two or three more times of asking the busy waitresses where they were before they arrived.
The shaky start was more than made up for by the rest of the evening.
We then had the same waitress for the rest of the evening and she was friendly and attentive.
She even put a beer glass in the fridge after my husband joked that the glass she brought out with his bottled beer was warm.
While on the subject of drinks, I need to mention the extensive list of wines, beers, cocktails and mocktails on offer.
If you are really celebrating you can go for an £80 cocktail tree - 12 glasses of strawberry daiquiri, pornstar martini or gin fizz stacked up on a wire rack . I was impressed by the couple who were working their way through one of these while enjoying their romantic meal for two.
Back to the food. The menu was also extensive and it was tricky choosing what to have. There is hot and cold mezes, grills, fish, salads and signature dishes.
In the end we went for a hot meze mixed starter to share so we could try a few different things. It included halloumi, falafel with humous, Turkish sausage, spinach and cheese borek, and calamari.
It was very tasty and very filling for a starter.
I should also mention that, after ordering, every table gets a little plate of Turkish bread with dips. This was lovely and to be honest, probably would have done for a starter on its own.
For the main course I had the chicken shish kofte - a kebab made with chicken mince, peppers, onions and spices - served with salad and rice. While my husband had the centik kebab - chargrilled lamb and chicken on a bed of crispy shredded potatoes and dressed with yoghurt and melted butter.
Both were delicious, full of flavour and nicely presented.
Other signature dishes included moussaka, lamb shank and creamy mushroom chicken. The list of kebabs included the usual chicken and lamb, as well as salmon and prawn. The grill menu also offered chicken wings, lamb ribs, spicy chicken thighs and the Galata mixed grill.
The portions were huge and, after the filling starter, neither of us could finish our main courses.
But the waitress offered to box it up for us to take home and I noticed others did the same. The restaurant also offers takeaway so they were quite happy to pop the food in a takeaway container so we actually had the Galata for dinner the next night too.
To book a table, call 01634 786650 or message via the restaurant's Facebook page.
Out of five
Food: Big portions, lots of flavour and so much we had to take some home, and it still had that lovely flame grilled taste when eaten cold in a pitta bread the next day! Meat lovers and veggies will be spoilt for choice. *****
Drink: Reasonably priced, lots to choose from and the “cocktail towers” are a great idea if you are there with friends, or like the couple near us, just happy having a great night by themselves. ****
Decor: We weren’t sure about the location of some of the scenic pictures on the wall, they didn’t look very Turkish. The outside was clean enough although one of the plastic plants looked dead, if that’s possible. ***
Staff: Once everyone was seated we had a lovely waitress who was very attentive and ensuring my partner had his own glass chilled in the fridge was a nice touch! ****
Price: Main dishes were around the £15-£20 mark and so good value, cheaper options if you wanted just a lighter meal. Beers and wines were reasonably priced too. Meal for two, with several drinks, starters and mains came in around £80. ****