We once had a fabulous meal at Kervan in Cliffside
Park, a place that Jim writes about so well in his
book. Five friends wanted to try another Turkish
place, so we drove to Union City, New Jersey and to a
restaurant that Robert Sietsema recommends in his
book, Beyti Kebab.
First of all, getting there couldn't be more
convenient. From the Lincoln Tunnel, it's a few
minutes to the Park Ave. offramp off of I-395, and the
drive to the restaurant is less than five minutes from
there (4105 Park Ave.) And what a charming area, with
plenty of intriguing restaurants, an ultra-cool old
Dairy Queen, and a store that to my eternal regret was
closed: Juanita's Fantasy World. Don't jump to
conclusions: it's a party-supply store.
We had a terrific meal, with a wonderful, caring
waiter, but I don't think it reaches the heights of
Kervan. Robert said the hommus was best he'd ever
eaten, but I have a feeling it isn't the same stuff he
ate. It was not at all chunky as Robert describes,
and was kind of bland. Same with the caviar spread.
But the salads (including the "Russian salad," which
the waiter strongly recommended and was my favorite
dish of the ones we sampled) were excellent (why don't
American chefs use parsley as a flavor enhancer more
often? It's wasted as a garnish). The imam bayildi
was wonderful. And the bread was super.
The kebabs were a mixed bag, and not up to the level
of the appetizers. The lamb chops were terrific, the
doner a little dry and bland, the chicken kebabs
beautifully cooked but again lacking the depth of
flavor that we experienced at Kervan.
Beyti might be as good as any Turkish food I've had in
Manhattan, but I have to admit that while I was
eating, I kept thinking about my next trip to