Up we go to Beyoglu! ~ Orderinny

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Up we go to Beyoglu!

While in training, Tyler told me about Beyoglu and praised the place to the skies. In fact, he bestowed it his golden "thumbs up". Very high praise indeed. Unfortunately Beyoglu is on the Upper East Side and I live in Hell's Kitchen. The distance outweighed my appetite for turkish delights and so I remained stuck in midtown. A trip to Chinatown and a chance meeting with Tyler and his wife at Yeah Shanghai- another great recommendation he had made earlier and which I had fallen in love with - reminded me that this is a man with impeccable taste in food. To disregard his recommendation on Beyoglu would be a big mistake.
Finally, nine long months after the glowing recommendation was given, I took the subway 40 blocks up to 81st and 3rd withYanru and Andreea in tow to try out some authentic Turkish food. Man, was I dumb to have taken so long to get there. In short, the food was fantastic, servings were generous, the service very warm and the check very kind to the wallet!
Beyoglu is apparently very popular among Upper East-Siders and when we got there around 7, it was pretty packed already. Not an easy feat, given the plethora of food choices in the vicinity. Thankfully New Yorkers eat late. There wasn't any room left on the first floor, which was decorated in mediterranean style, with orange walls and blue tiles all around, so we were ushered to the dining room on the second floor. The room on the second floor was decorated like a cross between a provincial french dining room and the reincarnation of an italian restaurant and felt a little incongruous with the 1st floor and the turkish music playing softly in the background. But that was soon forgiven and forgotten when the food arrived.
I remembered Tyler telling me to order from the appetizer menu because he liked it best, so we decided to split a mezze plate and share a kebab amongst us girls. There was plenty to go around and with yummy bread flowing freely from the kitchen into our mouths, we didn't even manage to finish all the food. The lamb and beef kebab we had was well spiced and well cooked, but since I'm not a big meat eater, I thought it was above average but not by much. The mezze plate however, was insanely tasty. We had stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ghanoush, ezme (a spicy diced salad), tabbouleh, sauteed spinach and home made yogurt and all were excellently made. The yogurt was thick and tangy, the hummus and baba ghanoush creamy and smoky and were excellent foils to the sharper tastes of the salad and the very lemony and extremely yummy tabbouleh.

Mezze plate (LHS), Kebab (RHS) looks the same, yah?

Yanru declared it "the best tabbouleh I've ever eaten" And the bread is home made and warm and we could not stop tearing more bread to dip into the various appetizers. We had tried to be civilized and used spoons to scoop the spreads into individual plates in the beginning, but hygiene really plays second fiddle to easy access to good food in this case =) I was fairly certain we mopped up every bit of food on that plate. It was that good. I guess it was lucky that both the Singaporeans and the Romanian had no issues with double dipping =p We ate almond pudding after that, which was a fair but not awe-inspiring rice pudding specked with slivers of almond, bringing the feasting to a rich and decadent end.
Besides the food, service was also relatively attentive and our server was very helpful at explaining the dishes and making recommendations. During dinner we complained that the a/c was a little too strong to the server and she promptly remedied it by turning it down a little. She did this despite the fact that the room was packed and she was busying serving other table, which made us very appreciative and subsequently bigger tippers.
I may have been slow getting there, but I will definitely be back!

Beyoglu, 1431 3rd Ave (81st St)

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