Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sofra Turkish Kitchen

Recently, I happened to read a mention of Sofra Turkish Kitchen.  It had been a while since I had had Turkish cuisine, in fact, the last time I ate Turkish food, I was actually in Turkey.  From what I remembered, I remembered rice, yogurt, and a lot of kebabs.  I did do some looking before I went and I was correct about the rice, yogurt, and kebabs, but it also seemed similar to Greek food (which isn't really surprising considering that they're right next to one another) with some Middle Eastern food thrown in.  The dining room of Sofra is long and narrow with a bar in the front  There is a line of tables along each wall with round tables in the center of the room and a divided area with a low table and overstuffed pillows.  The lighting is from very ornate hanging lanterns.  While there is a full bar, I do like to try drinks that are native to a region when I go to a given ethnic restaurant.  For that, I tried Ayran which is a cold frothy drink of yogurt and water with a little salt which is similar to Indian lassi.  It was white and opaque with a really nice head of foam.  It was slightly salty and sour and tasted like unsweetened yogurt.  While it wasn't terrible and was drinkable, it was definitely an acquired taste and one that I am unsure of whether I am willing to acquire.     

The appetizer list had the standard hummus, babaganush, dolma, and tabuleh.  While I have had all of these things and do like them, I did want to try something different.  For my appetizer, I had Haydari, a combination of housemade yogurt mixed with chopped walnuts, garlic,carrots, and fresh mint.  It was topped with paprika and had a black olive in the center.  The whole of the dish was very creamy, if it weren't for the walnuts, and carrots you could probably eat this with a straw.  While it did come with a spoon, I was also served a lot of pita bread and I ate it like I would hummus, using the pita to scoop it up.  It did have the sour taste of yogurt but the paprika also provided a little spiciness and the walnuts and carrots added to the flavor.  I really enjoyed this and was glad that I tried it.  

My entree was Turkish Moussaka which is similar to Greek Moussaka only in its ingredients.  It had golden eggplant, beef, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and mozzarella baked in a tomato sauce and is served with rice.  While Greek Moussaka is built like lasagna and is layered, Turkish Moussaka is more like a stew and is served with rice on the side.  While I like Greek Moussaka, I discovered that I like Turkish Moussaka even more.  It had a very savory flavor and stew is easier to eat than "lasagna".    

For dessert, I had the Turkish version of Creme Brulee.  It was called Kazandibi which literally means "bottom of a pot" and is a type of "burnt pudding".  I have to think that it takes some really good timing and a knowledge of your stove in order to prepare this well.  The pudding is caramelized on the bottom and is served upside down with the caramel side up and sprinkled with cinnamon.  I would think that there is a small window between caramelized and burned so timing is everything.  While the burned top is not crispy as creme brulee is, it does have a flavor kind of like roasted marshmallows.  I did like this although I think I might have liked it more if there were a way to make the top crispy like a creme brulee.

I liked my dinner here.  The design is nice and the the staff is friendly.  I had forgotten how similar Turkish food is to Greek food and will have to return to explore the menu some more.  

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