Istanbul Sofra

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of meeting my friend from work, Julie, out for lunch.  Being an incredible considerate person, she let the “foodie who doesn’t get out much because of the small person who cannot be taken everywhere Mommy and Daddy would like to eat” pick the restaurant. Again, being the considerate person that she is, she was also willing to travel out to my neck of the woods to check out a new restaurant with me, Istanbul Sofra. (When you’re done here, go check out their website. How amazing does all that food look?)

The restaurant is where Alma used to be (I wrote about that…oh, years ago by now, I guess, but we enjoyed our meal there).  It’s on the corner of Braddock and Forbes, across Braddock from Frick Park, which makes for a pleasant space if you sit outside, which we did.  Inside was lovely and felt a little fancier, but we opted for the slightly more relaxed patio seating, and there were plenty of umbrellas to give us some shade while we dined.

The cuisine here is Middle Eastern, and everything we had was delicious! I got the Adana Kebab, which was seasoned ground lamb, reshaped onto a skewer and grilled. I must admit, it was a lot more flavorful than I expected it to be, earthy and with a little bit of heat.  There was a nice yogurt sauce that I thought worked really well to cool down the spices in the lamb, along with rice, a couple of grilled vegetables, and a small salad on the side. I really enjoyed how everything on the plate worked so well together and was impressed with how nicely everything was done.  My friend had the chicken kebab, which I might have to get next time. I enjoyed my dish, but I was a little jealous of how amazing the spices looked on the chicken and how nicely grilled it was. It looked really delicious, and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our dishes came with fresh pita, as well. In retrospect, I wish I had eaten some of that with my lamb, because I think it would have paired really nicely together. And because the pita was so thin and soft and delicious, I just wish I had eaten more of it! (I did take the leftovers home, but I gave Anna my leftovers that night for dinner. She liked it…but then there was no more pita for me. 🙂 )

Finally, when we were done with our meals, we ordered Turkish coffee. I knew it was a different experience from other coffees, but I had never had it before. Delicious! But not for the weak coffee drinker.  Apparently (I found this out when I looked it up when I got home), Turkish coffee refers not to the coffee itself but to its preparation. The beans are ground very, very finely–even more so than for espresso, from what I read–and then boiled in small amounts in a special kind of pot with some sugar and sometimes other spices.  The entire mixture, grounds and all, is poured into a very small cup and served. It makes for a very rich, very bold cup of coffee. However, I found it to also be very smooth; there was no bitterness at all.  Served in small porcelain cups set into ornate silverwork that gave it a handle and had a separate lid, the presentation was beautiful and made this something special.  It was a drink to be gently sipped, and it was a wonderful end to the meal. (Here’s a picture to give you an idea of how it was served. Obviously it wasn’t exactly the same, but it helps you picture it if, like me, you’ve never seen this before.)

Over all, we had a delicious lunch (and, of course, wonderful company). Maybe best of all, I think Anna would enjoy this if we were able to get a seat outside, so we can go back again! I definitely want to try more of their food. Next time, I’ve got my eye on a few appetizers and definitely on dessert. 😉

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