waiting area at Bosphorus, tucked into an old house near the Eli Lilly

headquarters, is padded with jewel-colored pillows and flanked with dangling

blue charms meant to ward off the evil eye. They didn't stop me from giving the

Bosphorus waitstaff the evil eye one crowded Friday night. The wait got so long

that, in an effort to disperse the madding crowd, one woman jokingly feigned a

rat sighting. Call it a symbol of her enthusiasm for the place.


the wait, I needed the food at Bosphorus to be redemptively good. And it needed

to match or exceed memories of a 2009 trip to Turkey, where seaside breakfasts

of figs, yogurt and honey, and dinners of fish, rice and veggies seemed

timeless and effortless. The bar was high.


started with the classic beverage of Turkey: Ayran ($2.35), a buttermilky drink

served in a wine glass — smooth, unsweetened and bright white. Appetizers

materialized in the form of grape leaves (or Dolma, $6.50), stuffed with

rice, herbs, currants, and pine nuts. They were a bit mushy for my money, and

lacking in spice. Zucchini Fritters ($6.50) hit higher. They resemble little

green waffles and come with a bright sauce bursting with the essence of

cucumber – a tantalizing contrast to the hot and toasty fritters



basket of fresh warm pita pieces arrived a little later. For an entree, Dad

went for Kofte

(grilled lamb and beef patties, $12.50) instead. Three diminutive but

well-seasoned patties arrived, arranged with an artist's eye, with a petite

serving of rice flecked with peas and a cute salad dressed with vinegar and



decided to go vegetarian with Guvee ($11.50), a casserole of veggies. Had she known

this dish would come swimming in a pool of red grease, she wouldn't have

bothered. She decided to take it home and drain it as a last resort.


own stuffed eggplant (Karniyarik, $12.50) was rich without the grease: one half

of an eggplant, roasted until creamy, filled with slightly sweet ground beef,

tomatoes and peppers. My plate, also containing a little salad and rice scoop,

was empty in short order. Don't plan to cart home leftovers from Bosphorus.


this point, our server decided to take pity on us for our earlier wait and

throw in a free dessert. Mom and I indulged in an overly sweet Tiramisu

($4.95). Baklava was made in house and sparkled with fresh-tasting walnuts and

an unexpected flourish of whipped cream.


reflects the crazy quilt that is Turkey. The menu is inaccurate, in terms of

prices and offerings. Its seating system is haphazard. Yes, the hummus is

reputed as the best in town. Yes, the decor is charming shabby chic. Yes, it's

got that mystical feel you'd want from a Turkish cafe -- and a mod vibe miles

apart from its more formal competitor, the Istanbul Cafe on West 86th

Street. If you plan to go to Bosphorus on a Friday night, just be sure to bring

a book.


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