Unique Chania Dining: The Well of the Turk
On an island famous for its local gastronomy, The Well of the Turk has built a flawless reputation for serving something other than Cretan food. Here, the rich flavors of the Middle East and North Africa take center stage.
The Well of the Turk
In Greek, To Pigadi Tou Tourkou translates to the well of the Turk. It was a name I was drawn to… How interesting! Where was this well? Who was the Turk?
Like many excellent restaurants in Europe, there is always a good story behind it. My questions would be answered soon enough.
The Place: Splanzia District
Getting “lost” in Chania’s incredible Venetian old town is part of the fun when visiting. Splanzia, one of the districts, is known for its quaint labyrinth of narrow streets where you can spot two remaining minarets. A 13th-century church called Agia Irini is located here as well.
Splanzia is a neighborhood folded away in Chania, but hardly forgotten. Find it and you’ll discover the historic ethnic quarter where a Turkish population once thrived and where there was once a well. That well is inside the historic building where the restaurant stands today. Hence, the name.
Approaching Splanzia’s Rouga Square on a warm evening, away from busy strolling crowds of the harbor, I appreciated the calm din of the dining crowds enjoying the al fresco way of Greek island dining. Spaces around the corner property bloomed with flowers, deep red bougainvillea and an assortment of potted plants. Colored lights hung between thin yet bushy trees creating warm intimate spaces.
The inside dining space is a three room section painted in a perfect clashing contrast of yellow and blue. I found out that the low ceiling backroom, flush in bright maize paint, was a sort of prison at one point!
The Menu at Well of the Turk
Also true to the name, the food is influenced by Turkish cuisine but not only. The restaurant’s first owner, Jenny Payavla, had a summer home in Tangier, Morocco and loved the cuisine she grew up with there and brought that love to her Chania restaurant.
A few years ago Payavla sold the business to her chef, Elina Manoursaridou, who had helped her grow the restaurant. Today the incredible selection of dishes is an array of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties, flavors of Greece, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon.
We delighted in crispy pita appetizers with a selection of thick and flavorful yogurt, vegetable and tomato dips. The citrus green salad featured the crisp brightness of pomegranate seeds and a light dressing.
I absolutely loved the skewered kebabs with its slightly spicy tomato dip, wrapped in a crunchy pita. We also tried a vegetarian selection featuring a beautiful mix of spinach and herbs stuffed in a warm pita and topped with a dollop of thick creamy yogurt sauce, red peppers and tomatoes.
For anyone who loves the historically ambient, this setting is for you. Set away from Chania’s crowds it is a wonderfully calm yet an exciting dining experience — thanks to the eclectic seasonal menu. The ethnic cuisine selections are varied and flavorful. Chef Elina is dedicated to keeping up the restaurant’s fine name in Chania – and Crete itself – and she’s succeeding.
For a gastronomic experience in Crete that isn’t Cretan cuisine, definitely head to The Well of the Turk.
Food Tours in Chania
If you would love to try Cretan cuisine, check out the following excellent food tours while visiting Chania:
The Well of the Turk
Kallinikou Sarpaki 1, Chania 731 00
+30 28210 54547
From 25- 30 Euro per person, including appetizer, wine, main course and dessert.
Have you ever tried any of the wonderful cuisines mentioned above: Turkish, Lebanese, Moroccan or Egyptian?