This is a post for seafood lovers everywhere. Turkish meze is, for us, the best way to eat – small portions, some of which arrive to the table over a period of time so as not to fill you up too quickly. Leisurely dining at its best, where food, conversation – and often alcohol, too – blend together to create a perfect evening.
We often think of meze as the cold, mainly vegetarian, dishes placed on your table before your main meal arrives, but, while this is also the case, non-vegetarian meze dishes are, these days, well and truly on the menu in many of Fethiye’s restaurants…and here we’re talking about seafood meze in particular.
At the fish market in Fethiye, more and more of the restaurants have displays packed with, not only the old faithfuls such as Antep Ezmesi and aubergine salad, but also a variety of seafood-based meze treats, too. There are dedicated fish restaurants in Fethiye that that really go to town with their seafood meze – so much so, you don’t need to order a main meal of fish afterwards. Girida Balık and Hilmi are two that jump to mind.
The Denizatı Restaurant Seafood Meze Experience
We just love the seafood meze dining experience, so, when we were at Denizatı Restaurant one evening, we made ourselves comfortable and opened the menu. Mehmet, the owner, knows we often order seafood-based dishes so he came over and said, “Have a seafood meze.”
Music to our ears! “Oh, yeah, okay. You choose, then.”
Whilst it’s certainly not solely a fish restaurant, Denizatı has always had fridges with lots of different fish (some of it ‘catch of the day’) on display and they have meze fridges, too – and they even have lots of seafood meze dishes in their starters section on the menu – but, for some reason, we’ve never considered it a restaurant to go to for seafood meze…until that night.
So there we were, knife and fork at the ready, not a clue what was about to be placed before us. If you know Denizatı, you’ll know that homemade, warm village bread arrives on a board first of all, along with an accompaniment of butter, cheese and black olives. We love this bread, especially if it’s hot, but we had to be strong and not eat any because we didn’t want to not eat Mehmet’s suggestions.
And then a huge bowl of dressed mixed salad arrived followed by seafood börek. I remember when I attempted my first ever sigara böreği (cheese rolls) recipe, many moons ago, I was lining up the filling on the yufka and thinking, “How lovely would this be, filled with prawns or crab or something like that.”
Well, clearly other people had the same thoughts. One Christmas, I made seafood muska böreği, based on the seafood börek we’d eaten in Fethiye – and this Denizatı Restaurant börek was very similar to that. Chopped prawns, a little grated carrot, cheese and a couple of other seafood ingredients we couldn’t decide on. Perhaps octopus…
Usually, if you don’t ask for it to stay, the village bread is taken away when your food arrives, but, this time, it stayed where it was. Perhaps it was forgotten about, we thought. After a while, once our plates were empty of the börek, a portion of deep-fried calamari arrived, along with a clutch of fresh, crisp rocket leaves, a wedge of lemon and a dipping sauce. And we were still okay at this point as we took our time, sticking our forks into individual pieces of calamari on the plate in the centre of the table.
This style of eating means – in theory – you don’t get too full because you can be dining over a long period. And we did get that much-appreciated gap before a sizzling clay dish arrived. Prawns! Yummy!
“This is why we left the bread there,” said the waiter with a knowing smile. Yeah, perfect idea. Just look at those sizzling, seafood-flavoured juices, begging to be mopped up with torn pieces of bread. We couldn’t resist, so once the prawns had disappeared, we succumbed to those begging juices and duly mopped the clay pot dry…and that’s when we got into trouble.
“That was sooo lovely, but I’m full, now.”
The gap between the prawns and the next seafood meze dish – stuffed calamari – served to tell us that we were not mistaken and we were indeed quite full. One portion of stuffed calamari, sat there looking at us, in the centre of the table. This little piece of squid was packed with the flavours of the sea – definitely some octopus in there, this time – and then topped in a rich, creamy sauce.
We could see it was calamari heaven – and we did slowly work our way through most of it – and it was calamari heaven – but we could eat no more. Pesky bread, you see! We know what it’s going to do to us, but how could we not soak up those juices, eh?
So, about a third of the stuffed calamari, it’s rich creamy sauce lathering the top and oozing into the slits to coat the filling inside, sat ominously on the table. And along came Mehmet, pulled up a chair, plonked down his own portion of bread – and this sizzling clay dish. A seafood casserole.
“You don’t like the stuffed calamari? Try some of this.”
“Noooo, we love the stuffed calamari. We’re just ridiculously full. We can’t possibly eat even one more mouthful.”
He stuck his fork into the calamari and took a chunk, pushing his casserole in front of us for us to try. Well, you’ve gotta be polite, haven’t you? I found a tiny chunk of octopus and tentatively put it in my mouth. Pesky bread! This casserole of octopus, calamari and prawns was just packed with all those seafood flavours I love so much. Soooo tasty…but we had to leave Mehmet chomping alone. That creamy casserole can wait for another seafood meze-filled evening!
So, the moral of the story if you’re eating seafood meze at Denizatı: Let resistance prevail, and, however much that bread calls your name, leave it well alone or else you’ll be too full… Hmm, come to think of it, though, if you did do that, you’d miss out on the taste sensation that is sizzling hot prawn juices soaked into homemade bread. It’s a toughie, isn’t it!
Seafood Meze At Denizatı – Some Extra Info
We should say now, we love our food and will eat whatever is put in front of us so we were more than happy for Mehmet to rattle off a little list of dishes to the waiter while we waited to see what arrived. If you like the idea of eating seafood meze at Denizatı, you have a couple of choices:
- You can choose a selection from the list of seafood starters on the menu and tell the waiters you want them to be brought out separately. Lots of people get worried about prices in seafood restaurants. Denizatı is very reasonably priced and, if you go the menu route, you’ll also know how much you’re spending.
- You can also ask what else is on offer as, often, there is meze prepared that is not on the menu.
- If there’s a few of you, or you want something in particular, you can pop into the restaurant beforehand or message them on Facebook to book a table and find out what’s on offer.
- Of course, you don’t have to go the whole seafood meze route. You can always just combine a couple of these dishes with other cold meze dishes, too.