Licensee Simon Young and his wife Victoria, who have helmed the Shepherd Neame’s inn since July 2020, launched the Ekmek Pide Company this week. They believe it is the first of its kind in Kent.
The pair developed a love for Turkish cuisine while living in Istanbul for two years running an international events company. Ekmek, which means bread in Turkish, and Pide, is sometimes described as Turkish pizza or flatbread, yet in reality, it is a hybrid of both.
“We really love Turkish street food, and we haven't been able to get that anywhere in Canterbury or wider parts of Kent, and not really in London either. We love the Turkish restaurants, but you can't really get Pide, so we thought it would be interesting and exciting to bring a new food option into Canterbury."
Cooked in a stone-baked pizza oven, the homemade dough is topped with mature cheddar, mozzarella or feta cheese, a variety of fresh veggies and spices, and with or without cured meats.
Victoria said: “From a publican’s perspective, they are really simple, quick and easy to make, and are really cost effective. They also use all fresh ingredients, so we make them with fresh vegetables. Due to this, we know we're giving customers really fresh food, which is something we found isn't always that readily available in pubs or restaurants.”
What’s more, the dish is not low calorie, but it’s also not high calorie, and so provides a healthier option than other restaurants, which Victoria’s customers were keen on.
She added: “They’re really nice to snack on while having a drink: sometimes people aren't as keen on having a really big meal when drinking, they just want something to pick at.”
Visitors to the pub had been “really keen” to try the Pide, with the licensees noticing the food drawing in a really good uplift in how long people were staying once purchasing Pide, as well as repeated customers, according to Victoria.
Customers can buy a plain Pide, an Iberian Pide with Serrano ham or a beef-steak option. Cheese can be swapped for a plant-based alternative for vegans and vegetarians. All Pides are served with tomato salsa with the option of a runny egg. Traditional Turkish salad can be ordered on the side.
Simon said: “We took over the tenancy of the White Hart Inn at the start of the pandemic and have experienced real success in attracting new customers. We used it as punters for years before we took it on, so we have a real affection for it.
“Finally, now we feel confident enough to bring a piece of our own story to the table by sharing a gem from our travels with our customers who we know will love the concept. We think it is the right time to bring it to Canterbury.
“They are the perfect pub food, something that is a little bit unique, and, they will also be the perfect thing to have in the summer.”
Alongside the new food offering, there are also bar snacks available, and the pub provides popular roast dinners on Sundays. If Pide continues to be successful, the licensees will expand their Mediterranean offering with more Turkish street food dishes.