After three months of nappy changing and sleepless nights, the visit of parents is a welcome relief for us shattered new parents. We take the chance to escape for the evening and enjoy some fine food.
My companion and I decide to swap a night of baby sick and Cow and Gate for the culinary delights of a traditional shish grill and meze at the local Turkish restaurant.
As the grandparents say farewell with the customary instruction not to ‘hurry back’, we have already decided we will be taking this request literally.
On what is a balmy summer’s evening, and fully intent on sampling the vino on offer, we leave the car behind and board the bus for Chichester.
We have a table booked for 8pm at the traditional family- run Reina Kitchen Meze and Bar on Market Road.
Enjoying a pre-meal drink in the blazing evening sun you could almost be sitting on the banks of the Bosphorus itself. Well, okay, maybe Chichester Canal is a bit more likely.
Entering the restaurant we are warmly greeted and led to our table, which is by the window.
The decor is contemporary, yet simplistic in appearance with the mosaic tiling providing a welcome reminder of the restaurant’s heritage. While the late nineties trance music in the background is a peculiar choice in creating an east-meets-west ambience, it is a welcome backdrop for someone of my generation.
Before we even have the chance to peruse the menu a plentiful supply of fresh warm bread with dips is placed on the table. With the directive ‘just ask if you need any more’, we duly take them up on this offer.
Our first challenge is to choose from an array of more than 20 tantalising hot and cold starters.
After much deliberation, I opt for feta cheese parcels with sweet chilli dip (£4.95), and I’m not left disappointed
Meanwhile, my companion opts for marinated olives and flat bread with spicy salsa and tzatziki (£4.95).
As someone who normally, by principle, steadfastly refuses to go for the shared starter approach, I even relinquish one of my parcels in exchange for a try of the delicious dips.
Other appetisers on offer include rich chickpea puree flavoured with cumin, garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil, or grilled spicy Turkish sausage, while seafood lovers can enjoy the delights of peeled tiger prawns or pan fried marinated octopus leg.
Having gorged myself on bread I am already starting to feel sufficiently full before even turning my attention to the main course. It is at this point I allow myself a moment of self-gratification, basking in the self-discipline of having not succumbed to a post-work snack upon arriving home.
The friendly staff are attentive and keen to talk about their Turkish culture and cuisine, with the passion for their homeland evident in the traditional dishes on offer. After being recommended a choice from the shish grill I go for chicken skewers (£14.45) which arrive with rice and a colourful display of freshly cooked vegetables.
The chicken is cooked to perfection with the choice of seasoning teasing the taste buds before exploding on the palate.
My wife goes for the mixed shish (£14.95) with a chicken and lamb combination. With more than 30 main courses ranging in price from £13.95 to £17.45, including an extensive selection of seafood and vegetarian options, there is sure to be something to everyone’s tastes.
With my stomach admitting defeat, and despite the obvious temptation, it is time to return from our taste of Istanbul to the less exotic culinary delights of baby milk and winding.