Sunday, September 8, 2013

Restaurant Review: Turkuaz

I'm a huge fan of going out to eat and trying new restaurants. Luckily my dad is a foodie, so we go out to eat in Manhattan very frequently. Last night Dad's choice was Turkuaz on the Upper West Side on Broadway. The food was delicious and the ambience was divine. The ceiling has fabric to give the illusion of a tent and there's draping all over to give it a real Middle Eastern feel. Little lanterns with those fake candles are in the middle of the table, but the candles are red so it gives the table a relaxing, romantic, intimate feeling. The only suggestion I have is to bring a flashlight to read the menu because the lighting is very, very dim. There's a ton of seating, which is not apparent when you walk in, but to my surprise there was a huge back area that you can't really see from the seating area in the front. There's also an outdoor area, but I highly recommend sitting in the back at least for the first time (because you'll definitely want to go back). It seemed to be getting pretty full around 7:30 on Saturday night, so a reservation might be a good idea. As far as pricing goes, this restaurant is on the cheaper end of average prices. Appetizers are around $4-$10 each and entrees can run anywhere from $13 to $35 if you're going to spring for the lamb chops. Average portion sizes are served. You most likely will not have leftovers, but with an appetizer and maybe even a dessert you will be full!

On to the food!
Complimentary warm bread and olive oil for dipping is placed on your table shortly after your seated. The olive oil has a great flavor! For an appetizer we got the "Acili Ezme" (spicy mashed vegetables). This wasn't very spicy at all, but the flavor was appetizing. You could clearly taste the parsley, walnut, onion, and peppers.
For my main dish I got Türlü, the vegetarian option (there are 3). It's described as a vegetable casserole, which to me is usually some baked, cheesy, unhealthy dish, but with no mention of dairy or cheese I was excited to see what a Middle Eastern casserole is like. It's almost like a stew and let me tell you, I made the right choice. There was eggplant, potato, green beans, onion, yellow squash, zucchini, and red pepper with garlic and carrots chopped up very finely and braised in a "house sauce". This also came with rice (not photographed) that I could barely touch because I was full, but I would have devoured it all if it was possible.
Skewered ground meat is such an odd concept in my mind because how do you put something that's all ground up onto a skewer? Well, it can be done and usually is on Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Greek menus. My dad got the Adana Kepbap and said it had a little kick to it. I'm not sure what that means though because he's the type to enjoy something that's so spicy he's actually choking on it. It came with a cabbage salad that had a very prominent mint flavor and rice that looked like it was in a tomato sauce. I thought the presentation was very appealing, too.
My mom came along as well and she opted for the Manti (steamed dumplings). The portion size was on the larger size and she loved every bite that she could eat. Turkuaz fills their dumplings with ground lamb and herbs and then serve it in a tomato sauce with yogurt. 
There was no dessert-eating to be done at my table for 2 reasons: one is that we were all too full and the second would be that our meter was one-hour max and we were just about at the hour.

If you're in the area (or even if you're not you should take a trip to the UWS) try this place out for a delicious meal. It's the perfect place to go with friends and family and the menu has something that everyone will enjoy.

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