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