Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Playing with Turkish Food

An officemate and I ventured to the new Antalya Red Square, 5131 Mayfield Road, Mayfield Hts. OH for lunch today. I'd only heard one, tepid review regarding this place, and it does look a little dark from the outside.

Inside, however, we were whisked away into a beautifully renovated room featuring a full bandstand and dancefloor. The website indicates that they have additional party space and bars on the upper floors.

It was also quite empty for noonish in this neighborhood; there is no question that the location has housed mostly unsuccessful restaurants for the past few years, so that is an extra hurdle for them.

Our lunch, however, was simply marvelous. We began with beverages. Bruce's iced tea melted its ice so fast, that it must have been freshly brewed. I opted for Apple Tea, which brewed up to a lovely color and genuine apple flavor:

Arifoglu Apple Tea

We were also started with some bread, which had picked up great smoky flavor from the oven that had warmed it:

A nice feature on the lunch menu is the "Special" - Soup and Sandwich for $5.99. The daily soup is Red Lentil, which I enjoyed:

The soup had some spicy complexity and a nice texture - pureed, but with a little bite. I enjoyed every bite, and I will admit to playing with my food - using some pita bread to wipe up the last bits.

My companion Bruce is a much fussier eater than I, but he enjoyed his "soup of the day":

Chicken-Mushroom Soup

I didn't taste it, but it looked and smelled made-from-scratch, and Bruce also cleaned his bowl, though not as thoroughly as I had cleaned mine!

On to the "sandwich" portion of the lunch, Bruce stuck with chicken and received the following:

Chicken Shish

Bruce was very happy with his grilled portions of marinated chicken breast in pita with salad and Yogurt-Cucumber sauce on the side.

Lamb Adana

Lamb meat that was chopped, seasoned and grilled, then served in pita with salad and a sort of red pepper relish that I tried unsuccessfully to photograph. I've had Lamb Adana once before, at Anatolia Cafe. The combination of the meat with the relish was just perfect. The spices were a little different this time, but this is a dish that hearkens to "mom's meatloaf", which every mom makes a little differently - and of course, my mom makes the best.

The sandwich was served with the mild Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce.

Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

The sauce was very fresh, but lacked any flavor punch (unless you count cucumber, which I do not care for). Still, I was nothing but happy with my lunch.

As we neared the end of our meal, our server brought us each a plate of the following morsels "courtesy of the chef":

Baklava and Kazandibi (Semolina Pudding)

The baklava was the freshest I've ever had (it made me go "mmhhhh") - even the ground pistachio nuts tasted exquisitely fresh! I don't think I've ever had Semolina Pudding before, but it was a delightful bite that I would definitely order (if I had room for dessert - this lunch left us both quite full).

While it is usually not fair to "review" a new restaurant based only on one visit, I feel very confident singing the praises of Antalya, because we had a darn good lunch. They are open every day but Monday. Lots of time available to play with their food!

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