Restaurant Review: Göz

By - Wednesday 28th November, 2012

204 Brighton Road, Coulsdon
Time from East Croydon   9 minutes or  20 minutes

Mouth-watering Turkish cuisine marred only by slightly eye-watering prices

South Croydon is rapidly becoming increasingly well-known for its restaurant district, and rightly so. But Croydon stretches beyond Whitgift School, and in the first of what I hope to be many articles exploring the south of the borough, I shall be reviewing one of Coulsdon’s more exotic choices for an evening out.

Stepping into Göz, one is immediately aware that this building was, until relatively recently, the famous Kabada, home of the luxurious (in price if not always in quality) oriental buffet. The high ceiling and the view into the kitchen give the place the feel of a high-class food hall more than a restaurant, but this proves not unpleasant once you are seated, as the space is well-lit without being too bright and the ambience (on a quiet Wednesday night, at least) was perfect. The recorded music was uninspiring but also quiet enough to function as perfectly pleasant and unintrusive muzak. Be warned, however, that on Thursday nights at around 9pm a belly dancer tends to do the rounds to extremely loud music. While her talent is undeniable and the performance serves as a welcome slice of eastern culture in the usually grey Coulsdon, the sheer volume and pace of the music does get a little wearing after a while and may not be to everyone’s tastes. (It should be declared that the last time I encountered this dancer was in March – she is still performing there but for all I know there may have been modifications to the sound system in the intervening months.)

Having been seated on chairs suspiciously similar to those found at Kabada, we were served in good time. Bread and olives arrived unprompted, but proved delicious. The bread was clearly baked on site and the olives were a significant cut above supermarket fare, juicier and more full of flavour. The house white proved entirely drinkable but not quite up to the £16 price tag, and a starter of Turkish sausage provided four healthy slices of spiced meat that were crispy and flavoursome. Their accompanying salad, however, can best be described as a bed of lettuce and carrot shavings with little if any dressing.  My companion’s calamari was ‘more chewy than tasty’ and could have done with more sauce than the paltry amount on offer. The salad was again a disappointment – more shavings.

The main course, however, proved to be a tour de force. Shortly before it arrived, plates of accompanying salad arrived that looked and tasted a thousand times better than the paltry offerings that joined our starters. The spiced onion was a particular delight. It and a mixed salad of olives, red cabbage, tomato, lettuce, peppers and more served as a fine accompaniment to lamb shish and kofte, the former of which I could have happily eaten an entire plate of. The barbecue pit, visible for all to see, is well-operated and delivers mouthwatering results. After trying the shish, the kofte only confirmed my suspicion that Göz offers some of the best lamb dishes Croydon has to offer, and the aforementioned sausage starter proved they know their way around pork as well. My companion ordered bream, which looked magnificent on the plate and, I was assured, tasted just as bream should. It was cooked to perfection, with its spine and bones lifting clean out after a couple of cuts.

Service throughout was attentive and extremely pleasant. Although a supply problem meant we were unable to enjoy baklava (which I can recommend from a previous visit, it’s truly excellent), an extra scoop of ice cream sweetened the deal somewhat (pun intended), served with a selection of fresh fruit. The ice cream itself was a little bland – having had Turkish ice cream some time ago, I would be surprised if this was sourced from anywhere outside the UK – but the fruit was plentiful, varied and juicy. My companion’s tiramisu was of perfect consistency and rich without being overpowering. If you do attend Göz, I heartily recommend ending your meal as we did – with two very reasonably priced (something that cannot be said about everything on the menu) and delicious Turkish coffees. These were the ideal conclusion to an extremely pleasant evening which, all the same, could have conceivably been £10 or so cheaper. If you fancy a change from the usual fare or are someone who enjoys Mediterranean cuisine, come down to Coulsdon for a meal at Göz. Their shish alone is worth the journey.

Cost (three courses)
£30.50 a head, including wine

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Kake

    Nice one! Thanks for the music warning — very useful for those of us who have trouble hearing in noisy environments.

    Would love to hear more details of the spiced onion. Was it raw, or done on the barbecue? What was the dressing like?

    Have you tried the shish at Mazi on London Road? I know I keep going on about it, but it really is good. They cook the lamb just to the perfect point of charcoal flavour on the outside and verging-on-rareness on the inside.

    Looking at the menu on Göz’s website, it looks like you could make a decent vegetarian meal out of the meze. Have you ever been there with a vegetarian, and if so how did they find it?

    Final question — what’s the accessibility like? Are there steps to get in/to get to the loos? Is there space to move a wheelchair between the tables? It would be brilliant if you could include this information in future reviews.

    • Tom Black

      Thanks very much for your comment, it’s great to receive such detailed feedback!

      The spiced onion was cooked but cold, I think it was grilled on the barbecue and allowed to cool, which gave it an excellent crunchiness but also a juiciness that the dressing (which unfortunately I’m struggling to describe) set off perfectly.

      I’ve never been to Mazi – it’s definitely on my list now! Lamb is by far my favourite meat.

      I can’t vouch for vegetarian options, but in my experience meze places are very good at these things, and the vegetables I was served were grilled to perfection!

      Thanks for the heads up about accessibility. I believe it’s step free to the loos, but there are areas that are tough for a wheelchair to get through in terms of the tables, I would imagine. Equally however there are more open parts of the restaurant that one could be seated at, and the staff are always exceptionally welcoming and pro-active so I am sure furniture can be rearranged where necessary. I will take note of things like this in the future!

      • Kake

        Thanks for the extra info! Was the onion maybe this sort of thing? Dressed with pomegranate molasses and pickling juice?

        • Tom Black

          Yes! Exactly that. It was delicious!