what used to be NAZAR TURKISH CUISINE, 42-03 Queens Blvd., right on the corner of 42nd St. and QB
has reincarnated to MAVI TURKISH CUISINE, at same location.
We went to have the ususual small but well prepared and somewhat "upscale" (for the neigborhood) portions of delicious turkish food last week only to find they were closed for renovations. The new owner/manager (he's introduced himself both ways) Barush came running out to the street, gave us his card and a menu and told us that the place had changed hands but the chef remains the same. He explained that the new format would be lower prices to suit the neigborhood but the menu and food would be just as fabulous. He implored us to come back in a few days to try it out.
So Tuesday we dragged my cousin who is a world travellor and just back from running another (photo) safari in Tanzania and my great aunt there to check it out. We often go to the Kebab House on Northern Blvd. in Little Neck right near my aunt's which is always excellent and the whole family enjoys.
OK back to Mavi/formerly known as Nazars
We ordered for apps:
-manti with lamb and yogurt sauce
Haydari - thickened homemade yogurt dip
-arnavut cigeri - cubes of "seasoned" fried liver which is usually served with sumac dusted onions and lemon
-stuffed "baby" eggplant
-Coban Salad with Feta cheese added (at suggestion of waiter)-the basic med rim salad of cubed tomato, cukes, peppers, onion and parsley
-2 lahmucum - turkish lamb topped "pizza"
we decided to wait to order mains - see how the appetites and the food portions were (remember one of us is an 86 year old who likes food but doesn't have a huge appetite. It sounds like alot but the portions had never been large in the past so on we went.
OK - here's the analysis
manti - no hint of lamb - just tasted like a cross between boiled tortellini and ravioli with a thin yogurt sauce with a hint of tomato sauce drizzled on top. Zero complexity. Non descript (unlike when the restaurant was called Nazars)
Stuffed baby eggplant was half of a bigger eggplant with non descript stuffing with again no complexity of flavor (unlike when the restaurant was called Nazars)
Coban Salad - more of the same - nothing "wrong" with it and let's give them the benefit of the doubt - it is January when produce is not at its best, but there really wasn't much fresh parsley or enough lemon, salt and pepper even to liven a rather dull salad. The feta didn't do the trick either.
Now mind you they just re opened the day before - so it may take some time to work out the kinks - but supposedly the chef is still the same and also the food should be ultra fresh (which as you will hear later on the main courses it really wasn't)
arnavut cigeri - cubes of "seasoned" fried liver which is usually served with sumac dusted onions and lemon
- this dish is often my bench mark for good turkish - if done well it is a delicious dish of tender just cooked (and not overcooked) liver that is highly seasoned with sumac and other turkish spices, usually a very niced sized portion and served with wonderful thinly sliced raw onions that have been finely dusted with sumac and wedges of lemon to squeeze over the whole thing which sits on top of a bed of chopped lettuce. The hot- cold, spicy - sweet juxtapostion of the ingredients can make for a fabulous dish
In this case it was just cubes of overcooked somewhat tough liver with minimal seasoning and even the onions just had a pile of sumac thrown on top of the middle of the pile of onions. I know this sounds ultra picky (and it is) but to me it showed a lack of care and finise in the kitchen.
By the way - we were the only patrons in the restaurant for the first half and hour and it was around 7 pm so they should have had time to get it together.
The yogurt dip - cann't say because it never arrived. Usually that type of appetizer is the waiters responsibility to plate up as it is from the cold station. In any case we got all the above apps and were waiting for the lacmacun and the yogurt
So when the lacmacun arrived without the yogurt I was beginning to get a bit pissed off. It had been hard to get the waiters attention (remember we were the only ones there). I decided to cancel the yogurt, which he made noises like they were preparing. (This was about 40 minutes after we first ordered).
We had almost forgotten about the lacmacun because we were so unhappy with the results thus far.
Fortunately the lacmacun was great - and surprisingly large portion. The only thing I would say is that it could have been cooked a bit more on top, but the crust was perfect. And I did forget to mention that the housemade bread was truly excellent.
So we had told the waiter that we would order apps and then see what we would do about main courses after we started eating. He never came back to check with us after he delivered the lahmacun. Eventually we got his attention - by now there were two other tables occupied - still not anywhere near capacity and the manager was waiting on some of them.
We decided on two mains -
the lamb adana kebab (turkish lamb burger) which comes with bulgur pilaf and some mesculin salad (no dressing or yogurt sauce)
the meat was excellent - well spiced, nicely cooked
the bulghur pillaf was like a bootlegged version of non discript spanish rice - lots of food coloring and not to much flavor. The salad was really more of a garnish and as mentioned not dressed or even having some yogurt sauce on the side (which would have also complemented the meat)
The other dish was a disaster for $11-12 we got about 3 ounces (at most) of dried out tough lamb served over an eggplant puree that tasted more of bechamal sauce than anything. There were one or two pieces that were reasonable the rest was poor. Large portion of "eggplant" tiny and lousy portion of lamb It is billed as tender baby lamb - it our opinion was tough old leg of lamb.
Dessert - the waiter brought over the samples and suckers that we were hoping against hope we went for rice pudding which also used to be fabulous there. It seems good at first bite. The top crust was tasty and the overall flavor was good but the consistency was poor and thin - not the thick custard like dessert of the past.
By now the manager had come over to innocently ask how everything was. What I should tell you is that we were complaining out loud to each other while the waiter was at the table (the chicken way I know) and he knew we weren't happy - especially when we cancelled the yogurt dip - but he also took the chicken way out and ignored our unhappiness.
The manager/owner asked how everything was and I decided to be the brave one - I gave him a line by line detail - similar to the above description. What I didn't include was the waiters indifference and lack of attentiveness (given the amount or lack of patrons)
I decided to critique the food not the human, as that was really the main problem here.
He listened, he apologized and asked us to give them another chance as they had just opened a few days before. He said to come back again and we would be satisfied - I asked what was his guarantee if we weren't? He laughed but didn't answer. They brought out a second dessert with the rice pudding "on the house" - it was non descript! - see a pattern here?
Homemade turkish cookies soaked in honey.
We ordered a adana kebab sandwich to go to bring home to the chowpup who was busy working on a High School project. Remember that was the really good dish. Now I know restaurant pricing is subjective. But mind you on the plate you get two kebabs, some pilaf and the garnish of salad for 8.95 - plus they give "free" bread. On the sandwich you get a huge roll with two kebabs for 4.00.
Anyway they screwed that one up to. I had asked the waiter specifically if the adana sandwich was the same lamb as we had at dinner - he said yes - the lamb. Well, got home and the sandwich was not lamb but chicken (and not as good as the lamb either).
Oh well - I hope they get it together but won't hold my breath. Cann't say we left as satisfied customers.
Anyone else been there lately ?