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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night

"Hey let's go out for some Turkish food!"  is not exactly a common phrase you hear every weekend, is it?  I'm more inclined to think one would choose Greek food before suggesting a Turkish restaurant.  And yet the comparison is quite similiar.  If you have never enjoyed cuisine from Turkey ... then let me tell you that you are missing out!
Go to Alpharetta and try CAFE EFENDI.  A new favorite local spot of mine, tucked away in a charming renovated house just across from PURE Taqueria.  Although Turkish food is not immediately identified with any particular dish (i.e.= sushi for Japan, or pasta for Italy)  it is still a competitive underdog in the world of ethnic cuisine.  Turkish cuisine prides itself on elaborate style with simple technique, focused on one main ingredient per dish.

To start, our meze of choice was falafel which I truly enjoyed. It had subtle flavor and balanced well with the jajik sauce, a rich and creamy white dipping sauce. Kiymali Borek was also served and it is the Turkish comparison to Greek spanikopita. We chose the ground beef borek rather than the spinach. I thought the sesame seed garnish made it unique with a lovely presentation.
Dinner was impressive. My dish was the savory Iskender Kebob, a house favorite. It is thinly sliced meat atop a buttery pide (bread) with light tomato sauce and creamy yogurt. The spices were not overpowering, the meat was tender and tasty, surprisingly complimented by the sweet yogurt which takes your taste buds to a new level. I absolutely loved it.  I could eat it again right now!
My guest enjoyed Lamb Sautee. Lamb is one of the most popular meats used in Turkish cooking. This particular dish was strong, yet the perfect example of focusing all flavors around one central ingredient. The lamb was the star, and the spices, sauces and other vegetables worked together to showcase the lamb. It was rich and delicious.

Café Efendi represents the authenticity of Turkey not only by its food, but also by the friendly all-Turkish staff, the décor, the atmosphere, the famous hookahs, and the overall Mediterranean style.

So next time you think Greek …. Just go outside the box one inch further, and treat yourself to the subtle differences and fine cuisine of Atlanta’s best Turkish restaurant, Café Efendi.


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