Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Turkish Delight

I have a particular affinity for Mediterranean cuisine. I think it is partly because, when done properly, it is comprised of some of the freshest tasting flavors using a minimal amount of ingredients. And I most often agree that less is more.

Beyoglu is a hopping, yet cozy Turkish restaurant located on the Upper East side, and I recently had the pleasure of dining there. My dining companion and I arrived at around 7:00 PM on a Friday, right before the huge crowds began to gather. We only had to wait about five minutes for a table, which was good compared to the wait time incurred by those as we were leaving. The only unfortunate thing is that this restaurant does not take r
eservations for small parties, so expect to wait when you go – but trust me when I say the wait is worth it.

We began our meal with the hummus appetizer and a shepherd salad. The hummus (pictured, right, with a bit of my entree in the background - and I apologize for the iPhone quality photo) comes with delicious, hot Turkish sesame seed bread. The bottom of the bread is really oven crispy and browned, and the inside is fluffy and light. The hummus w
as very good, and it contained a hint of cumin that upon tasting, made me ponder “hmmm, what is that?” It was an interesting addition to say the least. And the shepherd salad was fresh, crisp and wonderful, with a coarsely chopped array of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers in lemon and olive oil. It is always amazing to me how, for such a simple dish, it always tastes better at a restaurant than if I make it myself. And this was no exception. I think shepherd salad is one of my all time favorite salads - I truly enjoy its simplicity and freshness.

For my main course, I got the Doner kebab – vertically grilled thin sliced lamb and beef atop a rice pilaf and served with onions, grilled tomato and hot pepper, and crispy potato wedges. The meat was so juicy and flavorful! Even my dining companion, who ordered the daily special lamb kebab, found himself eating off my plate (even though his own meal was delicious) and muttering about how "mmmm, awesome" it was. The meat in my dish was expertly seasoned and thoroughly tasty. Also, the rice had a very nice buttery taste and consistency, and the potatoes were crispy and delightful. The only thing I could have lived without was the raw onions that are typically served with many kebab dishes at a multitude of Mediterranean restaurants. Raw onions just aren’t my thing.

Sadly, I cannot report on the desserts here, because I just had no room left after all that meat – but from what I could see, the baklava looked gooey and fabulous.

If you are looking for a fresh, flavorful, and fairly reasonably priced Turkish meal, Beyoglu is the place to go.

Beyoglu – 1431 Third Ave, 10028

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