We spent a few days in Selcuk, Turkey, in July. This is the busiest time of the year and Selcuk is a center for seeing some fantastic sights, such as the ancient city of Ephesus. I don’t recommend coming here in July, mainly because the main destinations like Ephesus are packed with tourists, especially the one-day bus tours from cruise ships.
I really wish that cruise ships were never invented, they have the ability to completely overwhelm any place they go, at least until the late afternoons and evenings when the minions have gone back to their ships and their non-local food. And cruise ship passengers miss a lot and get a completely artificial experience. But, I digress.
Selcuk itself had a good crowd, but, being a town, it wasn’t overwhelming and was actually nice with all the hustle and bustle of both locals and tourists. We stayed in a hotel in the
center of things, you could see the remains of a Roman aqueduct that is now the home of storks, plus all the shops and street traffic below. We enjoyed Selcuk.
We always had breakfast at the hotel (separate post on that to follow). Lunch we had on the run, such as pide (see Pide – Turkish “pizza”) or borek (savory pastries), if we even had lunch at all.
There were lots of restaurants around our hotel, all with both outdoor and indoor seating. This time of year, everyone was sitting outside. At one end of this area there was a pool and fountain that was nice to sit by. Or, you could just look at the street and could people watch, or both. Very nice atmosphere for casual dining.
I don’t think you can go wrong at any of the restaurants here, we tried a different one each night and all were good. It is sometimes hard to tell where one restaurant ends and the next begins and the proprietors will try and get you to sit down at their restaurant. Here is a review for the first one we tried.
Five Maudies – Highly Recommended
Our first evening in Selcuk, we were tired from driving over some of the highest mountain passes and narrow roads I have ever seen. We had decided to take the back roads. We are very glad we did, the scenery, including tiny villages and the people, was wonderful.
In other words, we were ready to eat and were walking down the pedestrian only street by the fountain when the first restaurant owner invited us to have a seat for a wonderful meal. He was nice, not overbearing like some of the store owners, so we figured, what the hell. We got a table with a nice view of the street, the pool, and the aqueduct with its stork nests. The weather was wonderful, hot during the day, but pleasant at night.
It turns out that the man we had talked to was the owner’s son. The mother and father were the chefs and they used a wood burning grill/oven for dishes requiring such. This really was a “hole in the wall” family operation. You see that quite a bit in Turkey.
We ordered Efes beers to start, while we perused the menu. This was the one time I tried Efes dark beer and it was excellent. Lynn had the usual Pilsen. The atmosphere surrounding our table was amazing, I could sit there all day. On one side a pedestrian street (well, mopeds and bicycles made use of it, too), so great for people watching. On the other the fountain and pool and the remains of the Roman aqueduct with the huge stork nests on top. The storks were flying in and out. Quite a sight.
The waiter (I believe his name was Hakan) brought over some fresh bread and butter. That tasted like it hadn’t been out of the oven more than an hour. Very good while sipping beer and deciding what to order. Lots of choices and almost all of those choices looked good. There are a lot of vegetarian selections.
We ordered tomato soup. One thing I have discovered in the Middle East is they know how to make tomato soup. I saw it mainly at Indian restaurants in Kuwait and it was common in Turkey. Every tomato I saw in Turkey (and I saw them at every meal) was perfectly off-the-vine ripe and unbelievably luscious, so they have a great product to start with. The Ejder tomato soup was outstanding.
Next was a mezze plate to share. Mezze plates are quite common in Turkey and you get to sample a number of items. We got pureed eggplant with spices, hummus, olives, a hot pepper paste with minced tomatoes and onions), and cheese (beyaz peynir). Everything was great and, even though we already had the loaf style bread slices, we were given some flat bread, as well.
Now for the main courses and a misstep on Lynn’s part. I was looking at the lamb dishes and Hakan suggested a specialty from eastern Turkey, where, I believe, they are from. We were in western
Turkey. I went with that. Lynn was indecisive and saw chicken schnitzel on the menu. She was intrigued, maybe it would be interesting to try a Turkish spin on that. We also discussed that is may just be fried chicken. She decided to try it.
My dish was sublime. It was a spiced ground lamb kebab, nothing unusual about that, but the spices were a bit different than most I had seen in minced lamb. But what made this dish special was a mushroom sauce and rice. A
piece of meat, some rice and sauce in a bite. Lovely. It came with the usual luscious grilled tomatoes and peppers, and a green salad. Dressing is just not used in the Middle East from my experience, you can put lemon juice, olive oil and/or vinegar on it if you like.
Lynn’s meal was not as exciting. It turned out to be chicken nuggets/strips with French fries, as well as the usual tomatoes, etc. She was disappointed, but we can’t hold that against the restaurant. She did say they were the best chicken nuggets she had ever had. She would just have preferred to have had something a bit more Turkish.
This is a restaurant I would go to again and again to try their other dishes.
Tags: aqueduct, beer, beyaz peynir, borek, cheese, chicken, chicken nugget, cruise, cruise ship., efes, Eggplant, Ejder Restaurant, Ephesus, grilled, hot pepper paste, hummus, lamb, meze, mezze, mushroom, mushroom sauce, olives, pepper, pide, restaurant, restaurant review, restaurants, Roman, Selcuk, stork, tamato soup, tomato, turkey