Updated to correct days of week that Turkish Kitchen is open.
The little Turkish kitchen -- now known as Turkish Kitchen -- didn’t do itself any favors when it first opened just before the new year and did what many people saw as a questionable business decision. And that’s too bad because the food is about as good as any Turkish food you’ll find in Central Florida, which over the last few years has seen several good restaurants specializing in the cuisine open.
Notably among them is Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, which has two popular locations, on Park Avenue in Winter Park and on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row in Orlando.
So when another Turkish restaurant opened on Semoran Boulevard, just north of Colonial Drive, with the name Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen it confused many. Bosphorous, of course, is the name of the strait that separates Europe from Asia, although the usual spelling is Bosphorus.
Why the owners of the new restaurant thought that they should, or could, name their restaurant so similarly to two others already in the area is something I can’t answer. And I hope that they haven’t created so much ill will that they will prevent people who love good Turkish food to give it a try.
I stopped in for a lunch visit last week and found myself at one of only three occupied tables. The young woman who greeted me was less than friendly, in fact she seemed rather rude. But she was soon replaced by someone just the opposite, and I was on my way to one enjoyable meal.
I started with an appetizer of falafel, and these fried croquettes were simply excellent. There were three of them, served atop lettuce and accompanied by a ramekin of hummus. The falafels were firm and well spiced and had a wonderful crisped and nutty crust. I could have stopped with these and been happy.
But I moved on to a lamb saute, a stew that featured plentiful chunks of gamey meat with pulpy tomatoes and green peppers and a bit of garlic. What made the dish so wonderful, however, was the olive oil that was generously added to the sauce, which gave it a wonderful unctuousness that coated my mouth with flavor. Even better over the rice that came with it.
Quite sated, I asked my gracious server for my check. But upon hearing that it was my first visit to her restaurant, she said that first-time guests were given a complimentary dessert. I figured it would be a couple of pieces of baklava or something just as simple, so I asked if I could have it to go.
Several minutes later, after she had explained that it was being baked, she returned with a kunefe the size of a salad plate. Kunefe is a goat cheese pastry made with shredded phyllo (whose official name is kadafi, which is why it’s usually just called shredded phyllo). It’s meant to be eaten hot, so my server told me when I was ready to eat it I should heat it in the microwave oven for a couple of minutes. Then she gave me a container of the sweet sauce that should be poured over it and another with crushed pistachios to sprinkle on top.
(This restaurant, by the way, relocated from Lakeland where it was also called Bosphorous Turkish Kitchen. You may recall last September when I told you that the owner, Mustafa Paca, was seeking Kickstarter funds to keep the place open. I guess that didn’t work.)
The decor of Turkish Kitchen isn’t much to look at. It took over the space that was vacated by the Mexican restaurant that moved next door to a larger building. That restaurant is called Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant, which should not be confused with Garibaldi Mexican Cuisine. What is it about restaurants in that area coming up with a unique name?
At least Turkish Kitchen eventually had the good sense to drop Bosphorous from its name. And in so doing, it described itself more perfectly than before.
Turkish Kitchen is at 929 N. Semoran Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The website is not yet functional, but you can find information on the Turkish Kitchen Facebook pages, including photos of the menus. My lamb saute was $10.99. The phone number is 407-730-9834.