Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
by Fred Moore - March 2006
Sit down, make yourself comfortable, relax and join us for lunch. Today I'm going to make you truly wish you were here! The restaurant, the view and the company will make you wish you had joined us in person.
It's eleven o'clock in the morning, it's Sunday, and our day is rich with life. All of the rain in the past several weeks has made our landscape brilliant and fully blanketed in shades of green. Our sky is gray but our day is bright. We've invited our friends Mike and Laura to join us for lunch at a restaurant over looking the lake in suburbs of Adana.
We drive by and collect our guests and head down town. The traffic is heavier than usual for Sunday but we wend our way through the down town streets with little challenge. I decide to take the route today that will take us over the earthen dam that created the local lake. As we approach the dam we ascend the street to the top and there as we crest the hill is the brilliant blue water stretched out for several kilometers; the lake has risen quite a bit from all the rain and mountain snow melt run-off. The hillsides surrounding the lake are unusually green for this same reason; this time of year is so rich in beautiful colors.
We continue our drive descending from the dam and circle the lake as we make our way to Sercan's, a lovely restaurant we discovered over a year ago. There are a number of restaurants along the lake in this area of the city; most are filling up today. They appear to be bursting at the seams with people enjoying this lovely day. Several have outdoor seating and they are bustling with casual diners. There are cars lining this lakeside drive and people darting from one side of the street to the other. This route is curving and narrow already but with all the cars and people it becomes even more so. The hillsides are a flurry with families setting up for their picnic lunch; some have brought out their grills and others are simply enjoying a blanket as they soak up this wonderful spring day. There's a vendor here and a vendor there along the route, one with chestnuts roasting on a makeshift grill, another with şalgam (a very salty beet juice), then there's the cotton candy guy and another guy selling bright multicolored kites. Between the road and the lake shore is a nicely kept green space with a sidewalk, today there are many people on the walk and all look to be enjoying every step, some hand-in-hand others alone.
Sercan is located on Suleyman Demirel (this gentleman was a Turkish President not too long ago) Boulevard. We have to climb a good distance above the lake road to reach the restaurant; it sits on a hillside up in the high rise district quite a way from the lake but has a beautiful view from the glassed-in dinning room. The restaurant appears to be clinging to this very steep hillside, very little of the building can be seen from the street; it looks to be two levels but in fact must be six, as it stretches to the foot of the hillside.
As we approach the restaurant, the lake view becomes more full and we can see most all of it; we pull into the small gravel lot and park up toward the patio courtyard. We're early by Turkish standards but the place is open and a portly man in a black checked shirt greets us in the courtyard. This courtyard is usually full of tables and chairs but it's a little early in the season and right now it's wide-open space. There's a small play area for children in one corner; the rest is red tile and it's all accented by natural grain wood fence. I don't remember seeing this guy before but he ushers us into the building with Hosgeldiniz (Turkish for welcome), a most polite Turkish greeting. We reciprocate with hosbulduk (we're glad to be here).
We're greeted several more times inside by others and make our way to the back corner near the large panoramic windows that look out over a landscape of small fields, apartment flats and condos out toward the water. As we're seated, I've put our friends to the side of the table with the widest view of the landscape looking toward the mountains and out across the lake. From here it's very easy to see the two long bridges that join hillsides together in a route that encircles this vast manmade reservoir. The lake was created as a part of a flood control project. As we look out across the water there are several clusters of condos in various stages of completion on the hillsides far across from us. We've driven around it once so have seen these places first hand and close-up.
In the immediate foreground below our windowsill is a new house that has been under construction; it's truly further completed than I would have thought it might be when last we where here. There are a number of other changes since our last visit as well; a major construction of condos between the water and us is now in the exterior paint stage and they're looking most inviting. I can't imagine what each of those units might cost but before long the word will be out. I'll keep you informed, HaHaHa.
Below us too we see a ten or twelve turkeys and several goats. There's a young lad chasing chickens and because it's such a lovely day, the streets are full of activity.
Just out an open window behind Carol and me (not in anyone's field of view) several workmen are constructing an addition to this restaurant. Our waiter tries to dissuade us from sitting here because of the noise out the window (it's not that bad) but I insist; it's our usual table.
Our waiter scurries around the table turning our glassware right side up and arranging our plates and flatware just right. He gets our drink order and walks away. We tell Mike and Laura about our usual lunch (fish); Mike doesn't eat fish though and we know that so we make it clear other things are available. Our waiter is back and we order three plates of leverek or sea bass (a very lovely white fish) and we order Mike an Adana Kebab.
In minutes our waiter is back with salad platters and bread. He lines the table between the four of us with these platters. There's a platter of cucumber/yogurt mix, one with fresh parsley, one with lemons and radishes (these radishes are light green at the edge and very red in the center) we've not seen these before, one with a triple mound of carrot/lettuce/purple cabbage all shredded and topped with mint, and another green salad with tomatoes atop roka greens with pomegranate sauce and chilly pepper. With the bread he has two appetizers, one a small pizza (Turkish Lahmacun) and one small cheese filled bread that he serves each of us. The bread is flat and must be 8X14 inches and covered in sesame seeds. All of these dishes make me wonder why I'm not a vegetarian; they are great and I order the triple mound salad a second time.
As our salads are about to fade away our waiter returns with our main entrees. The fish has been baked in a large high-rimmed clay platter; it has been filleted and de-boned. The surface of the fish is golden brown and I top it off with lemon and salt. I gently work the knife and fork to expose the snow white meat and savor every bite! As usual I'm NOT disappointed in this entrée, it simply melts in my mouth. I look for approval from around the table and have fully agreement. Laura suggests they will return with family.
We eat and socialize at a leisurely pace and both enjoy the company and the
food. Our waiter is a little preoccupied today with many other guests so our
usual service is a little slow but our lunch is great. The restaurant has many
more people than we usually see and I guess it must be the beautiful day that
has brought so many people out for lunch. Once our main entrée has faded away,
Carol asks the waiter about fresh fruit. Not a problem he says and we get four
small platters of mix fruit, one with apples, kiwi, tangerines, ruby grapefruit,
oranges and bananas (all of them pealed and sliced). The bananas were very specially
prepared, sliced and covered in honey with dollops of sweet cream and all of
it sprinkled liberally with pistachio shavings.
After two hours of great friends, great food and beautiful scenery we request the check and pay the tab. Life simply cannot be better anywhere!