As you know, if you read this blog often, when we have friends or family over to visit in winter, we’re quite partial to a little drive up into the mountains beyond Üzümlü to Kırkpınar Restaurant.
This is especially fun in the winter months because you can sometimes be thigh-deep in snow.
But it doesn’t always snow in Kırkpınar, of course, and this Christmas whilst my dad was here, we decided to drive up there again because he’d never been before.
The weather had been exceptionally warm for the time of year. So we set off in shirt sleeves with not even a single flake of snow to be seen on the highest mountain peaks of the area.
This was going to be a mountain scenery day trip rather than a snowy outing…and, while we were up there, we thought we’d see if Kırkpınar Restaurant was open, too.
My dad’s a bread-loving, meatatarian. If the restaurant was open, we were sure there would be something to fit the bill…
Mountain Food Heaven At Kırkpınar Restaurant
As I drove up the rubbly track that leads to Kırkpınar Restaurant, I was clarifying with Barry all the time:
“Is this right? I don’t recognise anywhere?”
The restaurant’s signposted and we were in the right place. But it all looked so different.
Familiar is grey, snow-heavy skies, ice, slush, bare black tree barks and branches contrasted against the brilliant white of the snow on the ground and mountainsides.
On this day, we had crystal clear blue skies, dusty rubble tracks. And the vibrant green of pine needles clinging to the trees.
We’d warned t-shirt-wearing dad how high and cold it is up here – and then arrived to this!
So here we were on a weekday in winter in a remote mountain village.
Not a soul around and a restaurant that looked like it hadn’t been open for months; garden picnic tables stacked high and köşks stripped of their cushioned seating.
We marched off up the hill to check out the wooden building and were greeted by a barking dog; the only sign of life.
But that sign of life, in turn, brought out a guy in jeans and Wellington boots.
Time for Barry to put his best Turkish on.
Tandır, Trout, BBQ, Kavurma
“Hi, are you open?”
“Of course,” he replied in a why-wouldn’t-we-be kind of way. Even when somewhere looks derelict and closed in Turkey, it’s always worth a go!
“Great. Have you got lamb tandır?” We’ve heard they do a good tandır at Kırkpınar Restaurant and my dad loves the stuff so it seemed a safe bet.
“No, sorry. Only on Sundays. We can do you a fresh trout, we can do a barbecue or you can have kavurma.”
We relayed the translated information back to my dad and his friend, explained what kavurma is.
We all agreed that on a warm, sunny winter’s day in the mountains, kavurma sounded like a good option.
We looked inside – a huge wood burning stove was roaring away…but my dad was in his t-shirt and loving the mountain air.
A table was quickly set up in the sunshine on the terrace and, at that time of day, all was toasty.
Ahh, in a country that is charging through its modernisation process it’s still such a treat to be able to enjoy having places like Kırkpınar Restaurant around.
Ice-cold mountain spring water continually tumbling into a well housing bobbing bottles of fizzy soft drinks and beer.
That was the refrigeration process of that day, at least!
As we took our seats, our welly-clad waiter appeared with a jug, filled it with water from the spring and placed it on the table.
“Shall I bring you some starters and a salad, too,” he asked.
Yeah, why not. No idea what was coming but you just know places like this are gonna make you feel glad about life.
Fresh air and the sound of tumbling spring water and a couple of guys cobbling together some quality no-nonsense foodie goodness.
There’s no menu.
Whatever was going to be placed before us was gonna be good; of that there was no doubt. We just didn’t know exactly what it was gonna be…
We knew Kırkpınar Restaurant was famous for its homemade village bread (köy ekmeği).
So, as bread-lovers, we were already gleeful when four big, red hot ‘loaves’ were placed on the table.
Then came rock hard, homemade butter; a bowl of homemade süzme yoghurt; homemade jam and hard crumbled cheese (not in shot).
Yeah, think we got a little selection of some of their Turkish village breakfast ingredients there, but we weren’t complaining.
We tore into the hot bread; crusty on the outside and so soft and light in the centre.
Slithers of butter slowly melted into the bread as we then dolloped mixtures and combinations of jam, yoghurt and cheese.
Simple food that we couldn’t get enough of. What Turkey does best!
“We’ve not asked the prices for any of this,” we mumbled through mouthfuls of bread.
“Oh well. Too late now. Let’s just enjoy it and see.”
By and by, the salad arrived along with bottles of olive oil and nar ekşisi (a sour pomegranate sauce) for dressing.
A salad for four people to be shared between two of us – our company for that day don’t do salad.
They were waiting for the meat and were more than happy with their simple starters.
We dressed the salad and started to make a dent in the olives, cucumbers, lettuce and red onion whilst we waited for the kavurma to arrive.
Four more red hot loaves of köy ekmeği arrived and then the meal…
Now here was a dad-pleaser if ever there was one.
All four of us had ordered the kavurma so it had all been cooked together in one big saç (a large shallow pan) and served straight to the table.
Çoban Kavurması – loads of sautéed lamb or beef (beef in our case) with onion and pepper.
We’ve got the salad, yoghurt, cheese, four new hot loaves and homemade butter. And we all tucked in.
No gristle or fat on the meat. Simple, easy food that we all made pretty short work of in a devouring kind of fashion.
The loaves that had arrived, both me and Barry said we wouldn’t eat ours. We were already comfortably full from the starter!
Hmm, well that time comes when you’ve got olive oil/nar ekşisi/fresh lemon salad juices left on your salad plate, you’ve got juices from your kavurma.
And you’ve still got bits of yoghurt, butter and cheese left over.
Aaaarrggh, fresh homemade bread…dips.
We’d almost finished our cobs by the time the waiter came to clear our table!
We accepted the offer of Turkish coffee, regular coffee and çay. And I went off to take a couple of photos around Kırkpınar Restaurant while we waited.
Reasons: I take lots of photos, I was trying to get my bearings in a non-snowy setting, we’d eaten loads!
The house in the background of this photo is the same building in our previous post about the village of Kırkpınar (link above in first paragraph).
Lovely to see the difference!
And then that time came. Time to ask for the bill, then.
Meat prices in western Turkey are – well, they’re pricey, so we wondered what might be coming.
Total price (Summer 2015): 75 TL for four of us (around £17). The bulk of that was the meat. Our bill breakdown was:
- 1 kg Kavurma – 60 TL
- Salata (Salad) – 5 TL
- Yoğurt (Yoghurt) – 5 TL
- Tereyağı, Reçel, Peynir (Butter, Jam, Cheese) – 5 TL
Bread and water and hot drinks in the price. Just over £4 per head for a proper feast of dad-pleasing delicious Turkish village homemade food…and dad-pleasing prices, too.
And yeah, don’t worry, we also made sure he got his lamb tandır fix a couple of days later at Cin Bal, too.
As for 2015 and special moments, though., you’re right up there, Kırkpınar Restaurant.
Kırkpınar Restaurant – Useful Info
- Kırkpınar Restaurant is on the main Fethiye-Çameli road not far from the village of Nif/Arpacık (see map below). It is clearly signposted.
- Head towards Üzümlü from Fethiye and then continue along the road signposted towards Çameli and, eventually, Denizli. You will come to some snow-depth poles at either side of the road and the restaurant is just off to the right.
- Kirkpınar Restaurant is open daily, all year round – kuzu tandır (lamb tandır) is served on Sundays (winter 2015-16). They also serve Turkish village breakfast (köy kahvaltısı).
- If you’re heading up to Kırkpınar Restaurant in winter, please check mountain weather conditions before you leave. This is a zone for snow chains and conditions can change quickly! On a clear day, however, happy days!
- If you’re heading up there in summer, relish the cooler air after sweltering at sea level.
- For other ideas of where to eat and drink around the Fethiye area, visit our local Fethiye restaurants and bars page.