1999 was a big year for the UK. Not because Fatboy Slim released Praise You, or because the Millennium Dome went up, and definitely not because of the Y2K ‘bug’. No, the reason 1999 was a big year is because it was the year that Gökyüzü opened in Harringay.
Gökyüzü is a Turkish restaurant on Green Lanes that’s become a London stalwart in just a couple of decades. Mention this place’s name to someone and you’ll probably get an ‘oh yes, oh yes’ in agreement. The kind of reaction that’s combined with a slow nod, as well as a sudden fantasy about wrapping yourself in warm flatbread with only a plate of delicious, garlicky, cacik for company. Basically, what we’re saying is, people care about Gökyüzü, and that’s because it’s really bloody good.
What’s good about Gökyüzü is everything at once, rather than individual aspects. The space - a multicoloured, pleather-filled, made-dot-com extravaganza - is enormous. But although it looks a little showroom-y on first glance, nothing is for show here. Everything is geared towards feeding you brilliant grilled meat and vegetables, amongst other things. In fact, from the moment your arse hovers above a seat, warm flatbread, dressed salad, and dip is put down in front of you. It means you’re doing that nod and munching within thirty seconds of being here. It’s ingenious.
Less genius is filling up on complimentary bread and salad before ordering from the menu proper - we’re talking from experience here. Take it from us, you don’t want to miss out on the meat (if you eat it). Familiar favourites like doner and chicken shish are delicious and just over £10 with rice and salad for a ‘small’. Strong emphasis on the finger quotation marks there. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to leave here without being fed extremely well. Take the manti (lamb ravioli), it’s lovely and moreish, and you’ll end up thinking about ordering the starter portion when you’re planning an evening in with iPlayer next week. That’s another thing worth mentioning too: Gökyüzü is one of the finest pick-up or take away options in London, and it’s open from 8 till 1am. If your night doesn’t end (or your day doesn’t start) with a lahmacun, are you even from north London?
It’s nigh on impossible to list everything we like about Gökyüzü. We’ve been coming here, on and off, for years and years, so any list would end up being as long and tall as a doner kebab wearing high heels. We’ve come for big group birthday celebrations. Romantic meze evenings. Even for solo drop-ins with a çöp shish and one working headphone. You should too. This isn’t so much a restaurant for a specific type of person, than it is for the city as whole. A lot of things have happened in the UK in recent times, and Gökyüzü is amongst the best.
Bread, dip, and salad as soon as you sit down. Bam. This should be law. No, it has to be law. Forget everything else, this is what the UK needs.
A decent, if unspectacular, plate of halloumi, calamari, Turkish sausage, and spinach and feta pastries. We prefer the cold platter.
Selling things by having them twirl in a window can be a bit, er, suspect. Unless it’s a doner kebab, of course. Gökyüzü’s mixed doner is good (and big) enough to share, but if you really want to you can do it alone.
These smoky chargrilled wings are perfectly tasty. We’d recommend a bit of garlic and chilli sauce with them as well.
Çöp, funnily enough, means rubbish in Turkish. It must be ironic, because this juicy marinated lamb is anything but.
This is a happy bedtime plate of food. Because there’s only one place you can go afterwards. How else do you think minced lamb, wrapped in bread, covered in cheese, topped with spicy tomato sauce, alongside rice and yoghurt, is gonna make you feel?
These are like savoury midget gems. If they kept coming we’d keep eating them.