I FREQUENTLY drive past Zigana and it is always packed.

I now know why.

The Turkish restaurant’s website boasts ‘amazing food, friendly staff, chilled atmosphere and 100 per cent fun’.

I struggle to quantify fun as a percentage, but otherwise that description could not be more accurate.

This cosy and authentic Turkish restaurant is an absolute gem, unassumingly located on Didcot’s Wantage Road, opposite the Baptist Church.

We visited on a Friday night and every table was occupied, with some hardy souls even braving the October elements to sit outside.

If someone is willing to catch a cold just to go out for dinner the food cannot be bad, and the Mixed Mezze to start (£10.50) immediately showed why.

This consisted of a basket of Turkish flatbread and four of the eight mezzes - dips and light bites - on the menu.

We chose hummus, chachik (similar to tzatziki), mixed olives and shakshuka, which is sauteed cubed aubergine, mixed peppers and courgette in a tomato and garlic sauce.

I love flatbread and this was honestly the best I have tasted, served straight from the oven and light enough to make you go back for more.

The hummus and chachik were similarly authentic, while even the olives seemed extra moreish as they were presented so invitingly.

But the undoubted highlight of the Mezze was the shakshuka.

As someone who does not pretend to have an extensive knowledge of Turkish food, I could not tell you its relative quality, but it gets a thumbs up from me.

It was meant to combine with the flatbread, but tasted so good it was equally perfect combined with the main course.

We could have easily filled ourselves up purely on the mezzes and we kept all four as the main courses arrived.

I picked the Yogurtlu Adana (£11.95), one of the restaurants’s seven signature dishes, which was a real monster.

I pride myself on always finishing my meals, and often others’ too - Georgia is always a good dinner companion as I often get one-and-a-half meals for the price of one.

But even I could not conquer my main course, which was worth the evening out alone.

Sat on a bed of yet more flatbread were barbecued pieces of lamb with herbs and mixed peppers dressed with tomato sauce and topped with Turkish yoghurt and melted butter.

This would not be to everyone’s taste as it was quite rich, but with a pot of rice and small salad, every ingredient blended beautifully.

While the bread, lying at the bottom of an ocean of meat, sauce and yoghurt, was a little soggy, this was not to the cost of the taste.

I probably ate about three-quarters of it, but eventually had to admit defeat and took it home for lunch the next day - there was no chance I was letting it go to waste.

Zigana has a sizeable barbecue menu too, with 11 options offering a range of shish and kofte dishes.

But vegetarians, fear not - Georgia flew the flag for you all with a halloumi wrap (£5.25).

This generous portion saw four pieces of halloumi with mixed green salad and hummus served with chips and although the halloumi was described as a little hard, there were no other criticisms.

Chips may not be the first food that springs to mind when you think of Turkish cuisine, but these were also worthy of a mention - crispy on the outside, but soft to bite into.

The wrap also illustrated just how amazingly good value the meal was.

Excluding drinks, what was essentially two starters and two mains came to less than £30.

The only negative was the 20-minute wait between finishing our meal and our plates being taken, but with a sizeable birthday party on the next table this was understandable.

In fact, any criticisms of the slow service were nullified by the presentation of a birthday cake to the birthday boy who, having just turned 40, accepted the gift with good grace and slight embarrassment.

His mates might simply have been trying to stitch him up, but it is always nice to see waiting staff who care.

This added to the atmosphere, but if you do not fancy an evening out, Zigana does takeaway too. Result.

Zigana, 32 Wantage Road, Didcot OX11 0BT. Call 01235 812200.