Cinbal, pronounced jin-bal, is a restaurant in a class of its own; a meal here is so unlike the usual restaurant experience, that it should have a category all of its own.
The restaurant, which is family owned and run, is in the now famous ‘Ghost Village’ of Kayakoy, is but a short drive or dolmus (public mini bus) ride from Fethiye or Hisaronu and well worth the effort. Wander around the deserted village in the late afternoon and then head to Cimbal for a superb, simple meal in a garden, shaded by vines laden to breaking point with scrumptious grapes.
Most visitors praise the excellent barbecue and it really is the best I know but the highlight of the Cinbal culinary experience is another dish, which is what draws the locals to Cinbal. Usually eaten as part of the meze or starter course, it is called “Tandir” and is slow cooked lamb with herbs. The tradition in Turkey, was to make bread in a wood fired bread oven in the early morning, then when this task was completed, the ‘Tandir’, a casserole of lamb or mutton, was placed into the oven to cook slowly until it was served at the evening meal.
Cinbal is not just a summer barbecue treat, come back in the winter for the true atmosphere of a Turkish village. Very few tourists explore out of season and Kakakoy is a wonderful , lonely experience in the bright, crisp atmosphere of a winter’s morning, when one can absorb the history of this deserted community. Then, when you have sharpened your appetite, visit Cinbal. In this season, the tables are inside the barn like restaurant, there is a roaring fire at the centre and each table has its own barbecue with a chimney, which carries away the smoke. The atmosphere now is authentically Turkish, join in, have a glass of Raki, taken with ice and water and just sit back, soak up the ambiance and enjoy a superb meal in this unique eatery. It is so good, that I am tempted to keep it a secret.
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