Meze Meze


IT’S one of those music-stopping moments when the waiter breezes over with the bill and asks: how was your meal, sir? Like everyone else I usually just lie through my teeth and say, hey, high-five, great, brilliant, cheerio. Or words to that effect. And then bolt. To do anything else would be rude? Surely?

Tonight, though, at Meze Meze I can’t resist a teeny-weensy variation from the theme. But when I say it the waiter steps back in surprise and then heads off to the open kitchen to discuss this with the chef. Also, the man at the table next to me who seems to know the owners gives me one of those slightly disconcerting glances. Gulp. I really should learn to shut up.

Now, I haven’t gone completely mad. I don’t, for example, tell the whole truth and say, the meal was disappointing. Even though that’s what I’m really thinking.

I don’t even say, actually, I came here because I read on your website that this is an exciting new ocakbasi restaurant and for some weird reason (based on, er, facts) I thought that would mean we customers would be standing around the grill or by the grill or near the grill. But we’re not. Nobody apart from the chef is. And that’s because the grill is not in the middle of the floor but stuck over in the corner by the window. Behind a counter.

I don’t say that because one thing I do know is that there is probably more rubbish written on restaurant websites by restaurant public relations people than just about any other part of the internet.

And I don’t say it because I’ve just had the grilled lamb ribs and they were caramelised, juicy, crispy and pretty damn good. Probably the only thing that was worth having again, even though I would need a telescope to watch them being cooked from here.

I also don’t ask why this restaurant is called Meze Meze when it offers about the smallest, most generic, unexciting and lazily put-together selection of meze I’ve seen in a restaurant in this city for a very long time. That would definitely be rude. But take those dolma: vine leaves, spiced rice, onions and blackcurrant is what it says on the menu.

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They tasted to me like they were straight from a tin: kind of mooshy, not in itself the end of the world, but somehow so hot in parts they couldn’t be touched while stone cold in others. Weird.

And then there was the beyaz peynir. Chunks of cheese, salad leaves, some oil drizzled over it. Exciting only because there was an element of cheese roulette – the menu not revealing whether I would get beyaz peynir or grilled Cypriot cheese.

What I do say is this – and I say it while looking down at a ceramic dish with half of a salad in it. A salad that the restaurant claims is a tabbouleh and I suspect is something far more mundane – it being chopped cucumber, tomato, red onion and what tastes suspiciously like watery balsamic. And not being mounds of fine, freshly-chopped parsley seasoned with olive oil, lemon, tossed with bulgar wheat in a heap of deliciousness, like the one I had the other night in The Beirut Star across the river in Govan.

Anyway, all I ask is: “That’s not a tabbouleh, is it?”

The waiter says he doesn’t know, he hasn’t had a tabbouleh, but he’ll ask the chef.

I don’t ask where the parsley is or even why the exact same salad I have paid extra for appears as a garnish alongside my grilled lamb and on pretty well every other plate I can see from here.

The answer comes back that it’s a Kurdish tabbouleh. Ah, and I thought it was just a generic tourist salad. Phew, because that would have been a very silly thing to serve in a new restaurant which makes a huge song and dance about its authenticity.

Meze Meze

1032 Argyle Street


0141 572 0232

Menu: Confused and confusingly ordinary choice of meze, given the name. Plenty of kebabs from their saving grace: that charcoal grill. 3/5

Atmosphere: In the middle of Glasgow’s hottest and best quality food quarter. Open aspect and pleasantly bare-bricked step-down feel. 3/5

Service: Perfectly pleasant chap, reasonably quick service. Not much effort required for the meze though. 4/5

Price: They didn’t charge me for the tabbouleh but their best feature is the prices with those mediocre meze from about £4 and kebabs from under a tenner to £14. 3/5

Food: Weirdly their best feature is not the meze but the charcoal grilled meats – I liked the lamb ribs. The rest was pretty sloppy and unimaginative. 5/10