Bosphorous

108 S Park Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789 (407) 644-8609 bosphorousrestaurant.com

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Considering my wife is Turkish and I visit Turkey for a few weeks at least once a year, I would say I’m a pretty good judge of Turkish cuisine. Therefore, by the power vested in me, I pronounce Bosphorus to be the real McCoy. One bite and you feel like you’re sitting in Istanbul enjoying mezes (appetizers) and sipping raki (anise Turkish booze). Everything is as authentic as it gets and once upon a time it was pretty damn good too. But ever since they opened a second location in Dr. Phillips, the food at both has slid downhill. Particularly at the Dr. Phillips location. So if you if you’re going, head to Winter Park instead.

That said, there are still a few things that remain strong, like the lavas (a giant puffy bread) with cacik (yogurt mixed with garlic and herbs), the lahmacun (ground lamb flat bread: pictured), the babaganoush and humus. The rest is sadly a shell of its former self, from the oily mucver (zucchini pancakes) to the flavorless okra dish to the adana kebabs that are not very adana (spicy).

But at least the staff is still very friendly, so if you need additional guidance, feel free to let them show you around the menu. Also, two things; I recommend going with three or more people so you can try lots of different things and second, don’t go if you are in a rush. Turks like to take their time and so should you. Besides, it’s not good to eat too fast. And yes, I am your mother.

3 teeth

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Vespa

Neyzen Tevfik Cad. • Marina Yacht Club, 48400 Bodrum, Turkey • +90 252 3161228

Vespa-Restaurant

Regardless of how good the food is in Turkey, if you are spending any length of time there, eventually you are bound to suffer from meze and fish fatigue. This is when I like to mix it up with something like Ox Burger or Vespa.

Vespa is a very capable pizza joint (and night club) located right on the marina, like so many other restaurants in the greater Bodrum area, however in Bodrum proper it’s pretty rare to be on the boat side of the road West of the castle, which they are. And which is nice.

Service is usually a tad rushed because the place seems to be packed every night. Guess we’re not the only ones who get meze fatigue?

The food, as I intimated already is solid. And I mean that only by Turkish standards. I mean c’mon, it’s not like you can compare it to Roberta’s or Grimadli’s, but for the Bodrum area in Turkey it does quite well. Not that pizza is the most foreign of cuisines to Turks, after all, the Romans did in fact consider Turkey part of home once upon a time. And with dishes like lahamacun and pide, who are we kidding, they are basically pizza-like objects already. But I don’t want to discount anything here either. If making pizza was easy, everyone would do it. Yet only Vespa seems to get the important alchemy of sauce and crust.

And having had many a pie here I can confidently say that they are pretty consistent, so feel free to let your cravings guide you. Salads are also good, but a little more on the simple side. Nothing too inventive. Just the classics. In fact, the only twist I recall seeing on the menu is a pie with sucuk on it (spicy Turkish sausage). Not exactly revolutionary, but a nice local spin on a tried and true. And that right there sums Vespa up in a nutshell. Tried and true and never disappoints.

3 teeth

Sip Sak

928 2nd Ave. New York, NY 10017(212) 583-1900sip-sak.com

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Considering the Turkish consulate is a stone’s throw, it would only make sense that a few solid Turkish restaurants would exist. Oddly enough, however, they are mostly casual and relatively new compared to the tenure of the consulate.

But I am pleased to say that Sip Sak (pronounced Sheep Shack, which means “quick” in Turkish), while not a runaway success, was still worth the wait. They do a number of things well, but my favorites are the gigante bean salad, the Chicken Adana (“Adana” means spicy- named after a region in Turkey where people like their food spicy- think Cajun and Louisiana).  And my over fav is their lahmacun- the best I’ve had outside of Turkey. Lahmacun is basically a Turkish version of a meat pizza, but without cheese. Most people think that Ali Baba on 34th street holds this title, but I’ve had both and Sip Sak is far and away the winner. The only downside is that they don’t have it on their permanent menu- it’s a special, so you have to beg for it if they aren’t offering it when you are there. That said, it’s worth the groveling.

3 teeth

Beyoglu

1431 3rd Ave. New York, NY 10028 • (212) 650-0850
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This and Pasha are my two favorite Turkish restaurants in the city. Although as I write this, I’m thinking Beyoglu might have the edge. First, the decor is fun and lively and the service is friendly- which is par for the course at pretty much every Turkish restaurant in the city. And then the bread and cacik comes (cacik is the Turkish version of the yogurt/garlic/herb concoction you find in Greek and Indian cuisine as well)… But their cacik is out of this world. Fresh, homemade yogurt so thick and creamy it’s like eating it right out of the cow. That, coupled with their warm, fresh baked Ramadan-style bread, and you’ll be in heaven before the food even arrives.

As for the mezzes (appetizers) they are all excellent. The spinach pie, the octopus- even the entrees were both solid. The only things I wish they had are mucver, lahmacun and midye dolma. But it’s been a while since I’ve been there, so maybe they’ve added them. Guess I’ll have to go back and see.

4 teeth