Ask my husband - I've been waiting *forever* to try out Ephesus Kebab Lounge. He's sick of the very words - "Ephesus", "kebab", and "lounge". But we finally managed to get in there this past Saturday afternoon for a late lunch with a friend. It was nearly empty - maybe three other tables occupied. Great, friendly service, and nice atmosphere, but frankly, I wasn't impressed with the food. I hope it wasn't the hype that made it unlikable, but that could have partly it...
We ordered the filet mignon kebab plate (which doesn't come as a small plate, but rather as a traditional entree size plate, complete with rice pilaf, salad, and grilled vegetables accompanying the skewered meat) for $13.95 to share, along with two of the small plates - Turkish fries ($5.95) and white bean salad ($5.95).
I guess what we were most unhappy with in regard to the kebab was the price/size ratio. Four chunks of meat for $13.95, essentially. The salad and rice were fine, but just not necessary. I'd rather choose my own sides since it's a small plate restaurant. Maybe they should try offering an a la carte option for kebabs. The second bad thing about the kebab was the spice rub the chef laid on with a heavy hand. This could be a matter of taste, but I like to taste the meat, not the spices. It's also possible that we're too used to Iranian kabob, which is pretty delicately flavored, letting you get the flavor of the meat itself (and the grill) front & center. But all in all, I wouldn't recommend that dish.
The Turkish fries were fine - nicely spiced, steaming hot, and greasy in a good (olive oil) way, but they could have used an aioli or romesco.
The white bean salad, also, was fine. The beans were still a little too firm (not undercooked, just not soft enough to absorb a lot of flavor) and were combined with red onion, peppers, and parsley.
Plain pita slices were served at the beginning of the meal, and made us miss the seasoned pita we used to get at Istanbul Grill on Shattuck in Berkeley - they had some kind of spicy, delicious rub they put on it and it was served with garlicky thick yogurt for dipping. Mmmm...
I guess this is partly our fault for not saying so, but we would have liked to get everything together. Instead, the white bean salad came as an appetizer.
We took a look at the dessert menu, too, and nearly blew a gasket. House-made baklava with pistachios sounded great, but it was $8.95!! I don't believe desserts at the fancy-schmanciest restaurants in town are that expensive!
I wanted so badly to love Ephesus, but I just couldn't, and it makes me sad. Everything was fine (especially compared to Walker's Pie Shop!) but there were so many things that could have been done better. And it's doubly sad when you consider that Bosphorus on University on Berkeley has seemingly gone downhill already. The last two times I've eaten there the food has been heavily salted and the service agonizingly slow.
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