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Istanbul Cafe, Beacon Hill, Boston (longish)

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Istanbul Cafe, Beacon Hill, Boston (longish)

Limster | Aug 1, 2002 12:22 AM

When I walked by this place last weekend, I guessed that any Turkish place that cared enough to drap their chairs in white and fasten them with red sashes would have more than just turkish colours on their furniture.

It would have been a lucky guess, but I confirmed this hunch with beetlebug over tea last weekend. (Yes -- I'm doing my darnest to get every last morsel of chow info out of my fellow chowhounds here every chance I get.)

Dinner started with an awesome sesame topped bread, warm and fluffy. Also a salad of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and lemon (which you squeeze fresh from a wedge). This stuff's all complementary. Did I say the bread was awesome? This is the place to fill up on bread.

The molten feta cheese and egg filling dominated the Sigara Borek, a Turkish reference to spring rolls (for the lack of a better familiar food). A mild green taste from parsley pipes up the cheese nicely.

I usually go for Adana Kebab, but this time I wanted to try something else. They recommended lamb, in particular, the very flavorful lamb in the Yaprak Doner Kebab. Here, the lamb is tightly fleshed out and thinly shaved, with one side of the shaving caramelized for that intangible sweetness. Goes great with raw onions! My favorite part of the dish was a long green chilli, roasted to a wonderful smokiness and mildly spicy, which added a happy spark to the dish. Other sides here include a roasted tomato (needs more roasting for a molten squishly inside), rice pilaf, and carrot shavings.

Washed stuff down with Ayran, a salted yogurt drink (nice tiny bi of salt) and ended with a handsome Rize Cayi, a mahogany turkish tea with a rich, round and slightly fruitty reasonance on the palate. The tea was served in an elegant turkish glass rimmed with metal, a delight on its own.

Baklava was merely ok, the bottom half drenched in amber syrup while the top kept its crispness.

I thought there was a lot of heart in the generous cooking. Prices are really quite reasonable, especially considering the real estate around here. Friendly and helpful service. Dinner with all the above was $27ish incl tax but not tip.

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