Istanbul Café offers exotic dishes, Americanized atmosphere

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By: Mallory St. Claire <mstclaire@hilite.org>

Istanbul Café offers Middle Eastern cuisine in a relaxed, sophisticated setting. With a name like Istanbul Café, one might expect a lavish atmosphere – Turkish rugs, crystal chandeliers, heavy curtains, smoke, etc. However, the interior is painted light green and is very well lit. There were few touches of Middle Eastern culture in the decorations – save for a few exotic-looking plates on the walls. The general atmosphere, lacking in ethnic decoration, was very Americanized.

As for the food, Istanbul Café sports a limited menu but offers high quality Middle Eastern cuisine. Vegetarian meals are easily found, especially on the appetizer list. Tabouli, a classic Middle Eastern dish, is offered as an appetizer and is spiced up with couscous and a fresh basket of pita bread. The entrée menu is split between kabobs and meals featuring beef, lamb and seafood.

The kabobs, which mostly involve chicken, lamb or beef cooked on a skewer, are served with flavorful sides. The vegetables are grilled and seasoned to perfection, and other options, such as rice and yogurt, complement the meat well.

For dessert, choices are offered such as baklava and a form of milk custard. The custard is served folded in layers and dusted with cinnamon and mint – an exotic and delicious combination.

Service is gracious, and the restaurant also sports a stocked bar. Istanbul Café is located in an area with wide opportunities for other ethnic cuisine, such as Moroccan and Russian food.

The price range is slightly high – an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert cost about $40, not including any drinks.

The Café’s Turkish cuisine involves flavors from the Mediterranean combined with ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine. Elements of the menu – such as sliced veal and lamb – provide the customer with opportunities to explore outside their culinary bubble.

Though not as exotic in ambience as its other neighbors, take the trip for the food itself and allow yourself to explore.

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