Inspired by some praises from this board, some friends and I decided to check out Veranda, the Turkish restaurant that's gotten raves here. We figured that a Sunday night should be a good time to check it out but, bad sons and daughters that we apparently are, we forgot that it was Mother's Day and the joint was thus insanely crowded. As was Sahara, the other Turkish behemoth on Coney Island Ave.
Leaving Veranda, we happened upon Empire Kebab, on Kings Highway just east of Coney Island Avenue, which none of us had heard of, but there were tables available!
It turned out to be a pretty enjoyable choice. The bread was nice and hot, and went well with the delicious eggplant spread/babganouj whose smokiness rivalled Waterfalls or Kebab Cafe -- and was further accentuated by a spicy zing (which I think may have been paprika). The cacik (minty/ dilly yogurt sauce) was also fresh and went well with the bread. The shepherd's salad (basically Greek salad, but I wouldn't call it that in Turkish company) was delicious, with a lemony flavor to the vinegar-y dressing.
Embarassingly, we filled up on so much appetizers that we were too full for dinner dishes that I would have been curious to try and like a lot -- like doner kebab or adana kebab. One of us got a red lentil soup that wasn't the greatest and another got a lamb and spinach dish that didn't rock my world either, but the good vibes from the appetizers left us feeling satisfied anyway.
We finished off with baklava, kadayif, and another dessert that I forgot the name of -- kind of flannish. They were bit too sweet, but pretty good; the former two had a nice dusting of crushed pistachios.
I'd still like to try Veranda, but this place now ranks with my favorite Turkish restaurants in the city (Ali Baba and Hemsin; Bereket only tastes good at 5 a.m.).