Steve R. introduced us to this place years ago. It’s stuck in the wilds of deepest Brooklyn on an unlovely section of Coney Island Ave that features auto supply stores and kitchen renovation outlets. In the past I’ve written about “bright lights" Chinese restaurants. This was the Turkish equivalent. Short on charm with pretty good food. I don’t remember all the dishes we had but I liked it well enough to return twice, once with my GF, once solo. And then, for no particular reason, we stayed away for 5 years.
In the interim I had a lot of very good meals at Turkish Kitchen in Manhattan. I began to warm to the cuisine. I had dreams where I wore a fez and smoked a hookah. Clearly it was time to revisit Tacis Beyti. It wasn’t hard to convince my GF – she’d been my partner at all those meals at TK.
We picked a rainy day at the end of April for our return. I figured we’d be able to park right in front of the place – most of the businesses in the area are closed on Sundays. No luck – we had to park around the corner. Later we found out why.
The old “bright lights” place still makes you squint. It was packed with an enormous family party which looked like it was breaking up. I figured we could grab a table as they became vacant but a waiter told me that the actual restaurant had moved next door. The old restaurant is now used exclusively for parties.
The rain was still coming down but it only took us a second to step next door. Surprise – no bright lights. There’s an exposed brick wall, vaguely Middle Eastern light fixtures, black and white photos of Turkish scenes on the walls and snowy white table cloths. I’d give it a 7.5 on the charm scale.
Surprise again – the place was packed with Turkish families and as we waited big SUVs pulled up in front of the place and disgorged families which headed either for the party annex or the new restaurant. No wonder there was no parking. The Tacis crowd had taken over Coney Island Ave.
We lucked out – a big table by the window opened up and they gave it to us. This cheered us up so much that we ordered enough food for four people.
They started us off with some excellent bread. The Turks have slipped under the radar when it comes to bread. It’s as good as the best Italian loaves I’ve had, pleasingly chewy and full of flavor.
We started with an order of Ezme.
Think of it as a Turkish salsa – it’s made from shredded tomatoes dressed in garlic with a bit of lemon, cucumber, and diced onion. They offer it with optional hot pepper and we ordered it that way. This is wonderful stuff – fresh and piquant. We used that great bread as scoops.
Next was pan-fried calf's liver cubes with onions and lemon. I’m not a liver person but my GF is – she thought it was wonderful.
Next was the Iskender Kebab
It’s thin slices of gyro kebab in a mildly spicy tomato sauce, served over pita bread dressed with a yogurt sauce. I had ordered this a couple of times years ago and liked it fine. This time around I liked it a bit less. Maybe it’s changed or maybe I’ve changed or maybe I was getting full. I’ll have to try it again.
About 5 minutes after it arrived they delivered our last dish - Karisik Pide
Imagine a cross between a thin crust pizza and a big pita loaf and you’ve got an idea of the base. Then they top it with sauteed ground lamb, Turkish sausage, Turkish pastrami & mozzarella cheese.
This was simply outstanding, one of the best things we’ve had in the last year. The pide is cut into thin strips which is a good thing because you’re going to want to eat this fast.
You can cut the strips with a knife and eat them with a fork but the crust retains enough rigidity so you can eat them by hand.
God, this is really good. Just excellent stuff.
We wound up taking home a lot of food. The liver cubes, Iskender kebab, and pide all made the trip. It took a heroic effort not to wait until my GF fell asleep and then eat all the left over pide myself. I devoted a good deal of thought to it but I figured she’d never fall for my story about how they forgot to pack it up for us. Instead we split it as a snack the next day.
The crowd was almost completely Turkish, split between foreign born Turks and 2nd generation American born. It’s a pleasant group, sometimes a little colorful, a little boisterous, but actually very well behaved. A couple of cuts above the people in the East Village.
The service was attentive and moved with an almost military efficiency. These guys don’t screw around. They find out what you want and then they bring it to you. There's no chit chat. From time to time they check in to see if everything is OK but there’s none of that false friendliness you find at so many American places. Nobody introduced themselves to us. I found that refreshing.
We’ve been back a couple of times since, both visits on Friday nights. Arriving at around 7:30 we’ve found the restaurant 70% full. There were no problems getting a table.
We’re working our way through the menu. Having been total gluttons the first time around we’ve learned to order less food
Hummus with Turkish Pastrami
Forget Katz’s pastrami – this has more in common with bresaola, the Italian air-dried and salted beef. You use a little of that terrific bread to scoop up some hummus and the pastrami. It’s a very nice dish.
Sucuklu Kasarli Pide - topped with Turkish sausage and mozzarella.
Turkish sausage has a strong flavor that I happen to enjoy a lot but I could see how some people would find it a bit much. It makes for a nice change of pace from the Karisik pide. I’d probably order it one time in five.
Adana Kebab - chopped lamb flavored with fresh red bell peppers.
It’s got a bit of paprika sprinkled in and it’s served with roasted green peppers and lightly sautéed onions over a pita loaf. It’s a mild dish but fully flavored and pairs well with the more assertive pides.
Wait – I haven’t mentioned the best part. The place is BYO. It’s as if they knock $40 off your check as you walk in the door.
So lets sum up. Nice atmosphere, attentive service, fully flavored carefully made food, and very good prices. The only negative is the location, miles from brownstone Brooklyn and a real hike from the subway.
I’ve got a car so I don’t care and to be honest, they don’t need any more business than they already have.
“We don’t need no stinking website.”
Menupages - http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...
Tacis Beyti is on Coney Island Ave. near the corner of Avenue P.
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