Call me ignorant, but on hearing the name of a new restaurant in town, Babaji Pide, I instantly assumed I was in for an Indian treat. Pleasantly surprised, this new eatery on Shaftesbury Avenue is in fact a Turkish delight! (Pardon the pun)
To be more specific, Babaji Pide is a Turkish pizzeria. The Turkish style pizzas or 'pide' as they are commonly known are made fresh every day in the wonderful open pide oven that sits on the ground floor of the restaurant. A leavened dough is stetched and flattened out by hand in the open kitchen for diners to see every uniquely shape pied created.
Spread across three floors, the site can sit 90 diners and offers classic meze dishes of fried calamari or roasted eggplant, which are served alongside traditional grills and stews, accompanied by Turkish wines or an interesting array of authentic soft drinks such as freshly pressed pomegranate juice or cherry soda.
The pide, which for the restaurant to even have the word in its name, suggests that this is the signature dish - is somewhat mediocre. A range of variations are available, suitable for vegetarians or meat lovers. I assumed that the ‘pizzas' would be the climax of the night, but chopped up and served with piles of salad, I am left wanting to go back and order more of the meze – the beer battered mussels are to die for. However, if you have a sweet tooth, then give the ice cream wafer sandwich or the rosehip and hibiscus poached pear a try.
It's hard not have high expectations when you find out that restaurateur Alan Yau, of Wagamama and Hakkasan fame has opened somewhere new, but I found the place to be a bit hit and miss, if I'm completely honest. Set in the heart of a tourist trap, the venue will undoubtedly make money from those that are about to, or have just been in the nearby theatre land but I wouldn't make it a regular occurrence.
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £20
53 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6LB
0207 273 888