Adana Grill are the new Turks on the block, having opened up shop a scant few months ago a block away from lovely Newton Exchange. Craig was blown away by the food at Adana Grill and decided to organize a ten-seat tasting for the local blogger and social-influencer community. I was fortunate enough to score a seat at the table, and while the meal was on the house you can count on your boy for an unbiased overview.
I was running a little behind so thankfully Surrey Eat’s trusty shutterbug James was on hand to capture the calm…
…before the swarm! Yup it was a who’s who of the Surrey foodie community all jockeying for position and working the angles for the ‘gram. It was a TON of fun but needless to say it was super hard waiting for the phones to eat their fill with all those exotic aromas permeating the air.
We started with a bowl of Lentil Soup ($4.95). It reminded me of a runny yellow dahl tadka with its bits of onion and chilis in the mix. The spice level was mild-medium.
Adana Grill has an open-concept kitchen behind glass so you can watch the grill-meister at work, and when he really gets going the dining area gets a tad smokey. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, it transported me to another time and place, full of magic and mystery. And meat. And magical mysterious meat. There was so much of it on hand it was difficult keeping track of what was what, but we had a blast trying!
Not content with merely ogling the chef’s grill skills we poked our head into the back of the kitchen to see how they bake their bread. Now the restaurant calls it naan, and it is baked in a tandoor like naan is, but I’d venture to say it’s actually lavash rebranded as something familiar to the local community here in Surrey. There isn’t much difference between the two except that lavash originates in Turkey and isn’t as thick and fluffy. It also comes sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds.
It’s also fun to play with!
And great for dipping in everything from baba ghanoush ($5.95 with naan) to hummus to tzatziki, all of which were on hand for our dipping pleasure. I’d say the cool and refreshing eggplant-based baba won this round, as the tzatziki had a bit of a mayo consistency I personally wasn’t overly fond of. I also thought it was a bit on the bland side with cucumber as the main flavour player. At $1.95 for a side it can’t hurt to try it for yourself though.
The Mixed Greens ($6.95) come topped with Adana’s house vinaigrette, and the Caesar Salad ($6.95) came with an interesting take on croutons that were decidedly sweet, and a competent house-made dressing. It was a pleasant departure from the norm.
When most of us think of Turkish food we probably think donairs given our usual options around Surrey and Greater Vancouver. Adana Grill has those on hand for ten bucks a pop, but they’re also showcasing a wider variety of Turkish specialty dishes for those with adventurous tastebuds. But really you don’t have to be Anthony Bourdain to appreciate these!
In fact the Lahmucun ($10.95) reminded us of thin crust pizza with Red Hot Beef burrito filling as a topping! In a good way that is. This was an unequivocal hit with the table, although the centerpiece of raw onion and pickled cabbage topped with sumac spice was sidelined for the most part, I found it a reasonable palate-cleanser between bites of pizza-burrito.
And what would pizza be without a side of cheesy bread? The presentation on this Cheese Pide ($5.95) was delightful as I heard one of the ladies exclaim. I don’t have much to say about it except that it caught my attention enough to plan a return for one of their other varieties (Chicken, Beef, or Spinach and Feta).
Our server (who by the way was amazing! A young woman from Jordan, she somehow managed to be everywhere all at once the entire time) started trotting out plate after plate of what I believe was the entire menu of kebab dishes. We were all rotating plates up and down the table so I’m going to play it safe and just write about the ones I’m sure of.
The Adana Mixed Grill ($21.95) is worth every penny and more. One honkin’ skewer each of lamb, beef, and chicken, this is for the big guy in your group. When I go out with an appetite this is exactly the kind of meal I’m looking to dig into. Forget that “half-plate veggies, quarter-plate grain, quarter-plate protein” tripe. Vegan propaganda! Just hide a few grains and veggies on the bottom and stack with a full plate’s worth of MEAT! Damn it feels good to be a carnivore.
The Adana Kebab ($17.95) comes with your choice of rice, bulgur or naan. Pictured above is the bulgur. Cooked in a slightly sweet tomato base, the texture was a nice reprieve from the usual rice. I’ll pick it again when I return.
So the Adana is a mix of ground beef and lamb, served up SPICY and stuffed with green and red peppers. This was my personal fave, and lucky for me it landed right in front of my spot at the table. Score! Plenty of fragrant spices in this one already, but if you’re looking to add a little something extra to any of these dishes there’s shakers of sumac spice on hand. Sumac looks like bacon bits and has a similar texture, but with a sour-salty one-two punch that adds impact to whatever you choose to put it on.
This yummy dish was as good as it looked. Packed with tasty flavours. Creamy! Sorry if I’m getting a bit lazy here, Turkish fatigue setting in and I’m starting to get the meat sweats…
So it’s a perfect time to switch gears and dig into some dessert! The Tiramisu ($6.95) was extra cute and the vanilla flavoured Adana Custard ($6.95) hit the sweet spot with its bottom layer of whitecake, creamy center, and pistachio topped top-layer. Only drawback was the rather gummy surface.
That Baklava ($2.95) though! One of my first and fondest childhood food memories is actually of baklava at an outdoor summer festival, and I’m partial to the kind that is saturated to the point of bursting with honey until it explodes in your mouth. Adana Grill’s baklava is juicy enough to qualify while still keeping the phyllo crispy on top and adding enough pistachios so you can taste them. Heaven.
We washed it all down with a spot of Mediterranean Tea ($1.35), and wrapped up a supremely enjoyable lunch with a round of thanks to our gracious hosts. Go check ’em out and tell them who sent you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and I’d welcome any tips you have on where to get the best baklava in Surrey!