Posted on 15-08-2016

This eight-restaurant chain, though brimming with class, offers a laid-back experience with quick service and a buzzing atmosphere


Decked with marble, portraits and bouquets, and with a demographic of predominantly finely-suited, fully-scrubbed and high-heeled City professionals, you could forgive a casual passerby for mistaking Tas for something too exclusive, writes Owen Sheppard…

On the contrary, this eight-restaurant chain, though brimming with class, offers a laid-back experience with quick service and a buzzing atmosphere.

Our party of three walked by at 7.30pm on a Wednesday to find nearly all but a handful of its fifty tables and 200 plus covers occupied. We hadn’t booked but were seated quickly and greeted with complimentary olives and fluffy white flatbread (and no, they didn’t already know I was coming for a review).

The menu lists dishes by category: meat, vegetarian, seafood and meze, with most main courses falling between £9 and £14. Turkish cuisine still has a way to go to before Brits, even ultra-cultured zone-one dwellers, will see it as a cheap-and-cheerful neighbour of Pizza Express or Bills. But Tas is beginning to sow those seeds.

Though distinctive, Turkish food is quite accessible to anyone who approves of citrus flavours with tender, stewed or curried chicken, lamb and rice dishes. Artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes, chickpeas and courgettes make their way across the board at Tas; all are ingredients that centuries ago made bed fellows in the homes of Persian royalty, and prevail today.

food Tas Restaurant 2

I’ll admit, it probably wasn’t wise for all three of us to order such similar dishes: lamb or chicken Köfte with our meat either as kebabs or tendered by a slow boil, as it doesn’t help convey the breadth of what was on offer. But I can say the colourful and wonderfully textured and flavoursome dishes went quite some way to ticking our boxes. If only the portions had been a touch more generous – but you can’t have it all – so it’s worth ordering a bowl of basmati rice to share, infused with a choice of apricots, lentils, sultanas and more.

There was also the spectacle of seeing the chefs tirelessly working, yet grinning to one another, while stretching and whirling bread dough or flicking the contents of frying pans up and down.

A brief hiccup came when I ordered a tomato juice, rather than go for another so-so Turkish Perge lager, only to unexpectedly find it topped at least one-fifth with Tabasco. Perhaps a little too authentic for my unseasoned taste buds, but our waiter obliged by offering a replacement, and thereby passed a crucial test.

So all together: quick, light, moderately priced, but radiating sophistication, while doing everything it can to be welcoming and inclusive. Expect this slowly burgeoning chain to pop up elsewhere, but let’s hope it doesn’t rush its dinner too quickly.

Where to find them

TAS, 33 The cut


SE1 8lf

020 7928 2111


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