Turkish dinner tonight at Turkish Grill. I'm slowly, very slowly making my way down Queens Boulevard towards Roosevelt. I met my brother David at the 40th Street Station and when we walked into the restaurant there was only one other couple seated. And at least four waiters. Who were all very friendly, I might add. Our water was refilled at least four times during the meal.
We started with the appetizer platter, which had labne (delish, garlicky with dill), tabule (all parsley but strangely, that made me like it more than usual), hummus (it was ok, but as I stated previously, I am super picky about hummus), baba ganoush (good and smoky, not much tahini, so more like eggplant salad), eggplant salad (roasted chunks of eggplant and peppers) and white bean salad (I liked the one at Mangal better, it had much more onion). We had some trouble deciding what to order for the main course. My biggest problem with ordering at Turkish places is that I never get past the salads. I love salads. That may be obvious by now, but seriously, shepherd's salads, mixed vegetable salads, dips, spreads, all of them, and particularly anything with cheese. I tend to ignore the most important parts of the menu, the parts that most people get excited about. Now don't get me wrong, I love meat on a skewer as much as the next girl, but salads are where it's at for me. To solve the problem, I asked the waiter what the best thing on the menu was, on the meat side. Helpfully, he told me I should get the mixed grill, or chicken kebabs, or the lamb chops, or the doner kebab, or pretty much the whole menu. But he did recommend the Special Beyti Kebab, which was described as grilled lamb wrapped in lavash bread and topped with yogurt and tomato sauce. Who wouldn't want skewered meat wrapped in bread? We also ordered manti, meat-filled dumplings, because David had been reading about them and thought we should give them a try. The dining room began to fill up as we sat there, snacking on our salads. Not too bad for a Wednesday night in January. The meat came out of the kitchen, and the waiters pulled another table over to ours just for our food, so that we had more room to share. Very thoughtful.
The Special Beyti Kebab was certainly special. The grilled lamb slices wrapped in flatbread were delicious when topped with the raw onion and sumac relish that came on the plate, and a squirt of lemon juice. It was also accompanied by a roasted tomato, pepper, shredded cabbage, shredded letttuce, and rice pilaf, which was quite tasty.
I don't know what to say about the manti, though. I love to say manti, and I could say it all day. Manti Manti Manti. But I have never had a manti, I am embarrassed to say (this is going to be a recurring theme in my blog, I fear, just how little of the world I have actually tasted) so I don't know what to compare it to. It tasted like mini lamb meatballs inside of a gnocchi, topped with yogurt sauce. The meat was nicely flavored and minty, the yogurt was refreshing, but I want to know how chewy these things are supposed to be. Somebody please tell me.
After diner we ordered tea, which came in very nice glasses.
I am now one step closer on the 7 train trail, and it feels good. Week 2 has begun! Only 50 more to go...
4220 Queens Blvd