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North Side Restaurant Review: Bang for Your Buck, Lunch at Turkish Cuisine and Bakery

By Caroline Clough in Food on Dec 5, 2006 5:15PM

2006_12_Turkapp.jpg2006_12_turksalad.jpgThere are two main ways that a person discovers a restaurant. The first is through some form of recommendation, be it from a blog, newspaper, television show or friend. The other is simply being hungry at the right place and at the right time. Chicagoist came across Turkish Bakery & Cuisine through the second method. In actuality, we had passed this storefront restaurant at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Clark Streets a number of times. We were always curious about the bright table cloths and decorations that framed the restaurant's windows, but it seemed perpetually closed, and so we always walked on by. Luckily we finally stopped and found a great new place.

2006_12_lambsiskebap.jpgTurkish Cuisine and Bakery's menu informs the reader that it is the creation of six Turkish chefs who came together to create a restaurant that would serve a full range of their country's cuisine. This, for the eater, is a good thing.

We stopped by for lunch and started our meals with complimentary flat bread and olive oil. We then shared the cold appetizer platter and the calamari appetizer. The platter was the perfect size for four hungry adults. The calamari was hot and crispy but not all that different from other fried calamari dishes we have had. For our main dish we had the lunch combination #1 which was, we declare, a very good deal. The combination includes a choice of salad (we went with the Shepherd's Salad), soup of the day and a very generous half portion of one of the restaurant's entrees (we chose the Lamb Sis Kebap pictured above), and it costs about eight dollars. We also tried our friends' Manti, a dish of small lamb dumplings topped with a creamy yogurt sauce. Another friend had the Etli Bamya, a wonderful combination of lamb and okra in a tomato sauce. Everything we tried was excellent, though we preferred our lamb dish and the Etli Bamya. The restaurant also has a number of vegetarian offerings as well as desserts.

The only aspect of our dining experience that was less than perfect was the service. Our server was new to the restaurant and, as she said a number of times, did not speak Turkish. She had to go back to one of the chefs at least twice to ask questions. She also spoke on her cell phone right by us, letting us know about certain aspects of the renovation process that would be best kept from customers. She also asked us to point to what we wanted on the menu because she hadn't yet memorized all the restaurant's plates. She did this all with a certain sense of humor, but we would hope that the next time we visit she'd be a bit more prepared. For lunch especially, this place is worth checking out. The prices are right, and the portions are good. And it seems that on weekend nights you can have a good meal accompanied by live music and belly dancers. Now that's cool.