I ate at Bosphorus last night for the second time. My first visit wasn't so great, but I thought it was worth another try since it had been a few months. No real improvements, as far as I can tell.
Decor is kind of nice, and the bathrooms are really cool. Service was friendly. Food ranged from boring to bad.
We shared a few mezes:
Cacik was fine, nothing objectionable, but nothing very special either. This is a more soupy version, though I still dipped my bread in it. The bread was actually not bad - warm and a bit fluffy, reminded me of bread I would eat at my favorite Turkish places in London.
Ezme (which came free with the bread) was okay - a little bit spicy, but otherwise lacking interesting flavor.
Kisir - This was completely boring, and way overpriced. It tasted worse than most side orders of tabouleh or rice that you get with a dish at any Middle Eastern place. For $0.50 maybe it would be worthwhile, but for $7.00 no way.
Yaprak Sarma - Stuffed grape leaves - The filling had a lot of cinnamon (my dining companion felt it was too much), and they didn't hold together - after one bite, they burst open.
Icli Kofte - This was my favorite dish of the night - fried bulger patties filled with beef. This had some good spicing, and they came with a yogurt dipping sauce.
Finally, we shared one main dish, which was by far the most objectionable thing:
Hunkar Begendi: This was supposed to be a lamb stew served atop eggplant puree. When it came out, that's what it looked like too. But the taste was just really, really mediocre, and lacking any interesting flavors. When I took a bite of everything together, it tasted like mashed potatoes and gravy that you'd eat in a TV dinner. The stew, in particular, was a one-dimensional tomato base, with small chunks of boneless lamb, potatoes, peas (which must have been frozen), and little pieces of carrots. My dining companion (who lived in Turkey for a year, and had this dish dozens of times) was really disappointed with the flavors and ingredients of the stew.
Not only was the Hunkar Begendi bad, but it was also very expensive at $20. For a comparison, the Homemade Yogurt Kebab at Istanbul'lu is only $17.50, and it's one of the most expensive things on that menu. It's also DELICIOUS, much more interesting flavors than the hunkar begendi at Bosphorus. Meanwhile, at Oleana, the Sultan's Delight (which is a similar idea to hunkar begendi) is only $13, and it is worlds better. The serving is a bit smaller, but actually not drastically so....but the two eggplant purees are not even comparable. I would be willing to pay way more for Oleana's version any day.
Total price for this meal was $60 before tip, and that included 2 beers and no dessert. Not a very good value for the neighborhood (same money spent across the street at East Coast Grill would have probably bought a much better meal). So, I'm pretty disappointed overall, and probably will not return.
Previous "meh" vote can be found here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/779440
East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139
Bosphorus Mediterranean Restaurant
1164 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139