Turkish Food Focus: It’s Always Barbecue Season In Kayaköy

This week on the blog, in the run up to the Cultural Connections celebrations between 27th April and 3rd May (post coming up), we’re going to do a bit of a focus on that beautiful valley just south of Fethiye; Kayaköy. We’ve written about Kayaköy on numerous occasions but we hadn’t been around the lower church or other sections of the ruins for many years.

Last week, buying our Müzekart changed all that and over the next few weeks, we’re on a bit of a mission to get as many photos as possible, from as many viewpoints as possible, of the village as it stands right now. But let’s put the village and the ruins to one side for now and get back to our favourite weekend topic: Turkish Food Focus.

The Cin Bal Experience, Kayaköy

Köşk At Cinbal Restaurant, Kayaköy, Turkey

Traditional köşk – 2013 style

Again, as with Kayaköy, we’ve written about Cin Bal in the past. The Cin Bal winter experience surprised a lot of people – well, barbecuing indoors is not a winter activity that immediately springs to mind, is it? It works, though. We’ve also written about that favourite of Cin Bal foods, kuzu tandır, and we couldn’t resist getting another photo of it for this post.

Cin Bal is constantly evolving with new additions appearing each year. This year, the traditional köşk seating areas have been brought right into the 21st century with plastic window surrounds to protect from the cooler breezes of the out of season weather. It’s not just any old plastic either. Press the switch on the edge of the köşk and the plastic will slowly roll up or down, stopping wherever you want it to. (Yes, we did have a little play with it.)

Meze Dishes, Cin Bal Restaurant, Kayaköy, Turkey

Favourite Turkish Food? Meze!

Last week was our friend’s first visit to Kayaköy so we couldn’t let him leave without lunching at Cin Bal. It’s an essential when we’re being makeshift tour guides. And, fortunately for us, he had no idea of what to order and left it all to us. Free rein to go mad with the meze fridges!

  • We ordered thick süzme yoghurt studded with charred, dried chillies and smothered in chilli-infused olive oil.
  • Super-spicy, pickled chilli and aubergine salad. A favourite of ours that always comes with a look of concern from the waiter that we may not be able to deal with it. It’s more tangy than spicy and if you’re a fan of turşu (pickled vegetables) we can highly recommend this.
  • Mixed salad – well you can’t eat all this lovely meze without a crisp salad dressed in freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil.
  • Roasted red peppers – just so sweet and ever so slightly crunchy. Perfect when they’re homemade like this, not so perfect when they’re slopped out of a jar (you’ll spot the difference if you look closely at the meze fridges of restaurants).

And that wasn’t all. Our friend was pointing at other meze. “What’s this one? Right we’ll have some of that, too. And this?” It’s tradition – every time we go to Cin Bal, we order far too much food for our numbers. This was our meze table:

Cin Bal Meze Dishes, Kayaköy, Fethiye

Cin Bal meze table

As well as the meze above, we ordered Russian salad, lightly-spiced pickled beetroot, haydari (garlic, minty süzme yoghurt that’s a perfect accompaniment to our lamb that’s about to be delivered), and sigara böreği. Of course, all of this came with a basket of bread, too. Once the meze dishes are delivered, your lamb tandır (if you’ve ordered it) will be delivered to your table. It’s sold by weight and we ordered half a kilo.

Lamb Tandır Kebab, CinBal Restaurant, Kayaköy

500g of juicy lamb tandır

By now, forks and arms are crisscrossing across the table as we all stretch for tandır, accompaniments, bread, chilli flakes, kekik, cumin – your plate is filled with a mishmash of foods that probably don’t go well together on normal occasions – but this is Cin Bal. Dive right in there while the waiter delivers the raw meats you’ve ordered along with onion, peppers and tomatoes. About this time, your pre-lit barbecue appears, too.

Lamb Cutlets, CinBal Restaurant, Kayaköy, Fethiye

Kuzu pirzola

It’s best to establish who in your party is cooking before you start your food so they can be sat in a good place to watch the barbecue. If you don’t want to cook, sit at the back of the köşk in the middle and pretend you can’t get out. Anyway, barbecues are traditionally boy things, so, apart from the odd occasion, I get away with not cooking.We’ve ordered six kuzu pirzola (lamb chops) and, for some reason, eight arrive. No one bothers to mention this. Barry sets about cooking them and, rest-assured, none go to waste. You can imagine how full we are by now, but, because we were hungry right at the beginning, we also ordered some köfte.

Köfte, Cin Bal Restaurant, Kayaköy, Turkey

Wish we were hungry for this…

We’ve ordered six of these – two each – so it’s relatively painless to work our way through them slowly, between sighs and…”Oh, go on, I’ll just add a bit of yoghurt and aubergine to it.” We feel a bit sorry for the Cin Bal köfte because we’re always full to the brim when it comes to eating it (it needs to go on the barbecue last after the coals have cooled a little), and we perhaps don’t need to order it…but we do always order it.
Last week was our first visit of 2013 to Cin Bal and we’re looking forward to many more visits as the year goes on!

Cin Bal Restaurant, Kayaköy – Useful Info:

  • Cin Bal is just off the Hisarönü-Kayaköy road. You can see it on our map, here.
  • There is no menu. Choose where you’re sitting and then go inside to choose your meze and order your meat.
  • Kuzu tandır is sold by the kilo. 500g is enough for four people if you are ordering other foods.
  • Weekends, especially Sundays, will be packed with Turkish families and kuzu tandır sometimes runs out. Get there early, if you do go at the weekend.
  • Cin Bal is a ‘kendin pişir, kendin ye’ (cook it yourself, eat it yourself) restaurant. There are a few of these places in Kayaköy, all good and all an eating experience.

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  1. I’m coming to the festival for the week-end events. Hope to catch up with you.

  2. How I wished to be there!! all these look amazing, enjoy and keep us posted please : ) Ozlem

  3. Love these places!

  4. I love the look of the kosk and all the meze. We have to make a trip to visit you guys when we are in Turkey next time 🙂

  5. @ BacktoBodrum: If we’re around, definitely. Got family arriving on Friday night though so we might struggle. Let’s see… 🙂

  6. @ Ozlem: You can never go to a barbecue place in Kayaköy too many times! 🙂

    @ April: Just the best aren’t they? 🙂

  7. @ Ilke: Give us a shout next time you’re in the Fethiye area and we’ll see what we can do! 🙂

  8. chris thomas says

    Weve found Kayakoy to be an excellent base if you want a quiet holiday away from fellow countrymen- olu deniz and fethiye on your doorstep, but peaceful rural and unspoilt. Are there any other places in turkey that are like this? We’d love tou to say yes….

    • Ahh, we’d say Kayaköy is unique, Chris Thomas, because of its history, its proximity to other great places and also its great barbecue restaurants like Cin Bal Kebap Salonu. 🙂

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