As you may know, Bosphorous has taken over the restaurant formerly known as Anatolia on Restaurant Row. Anatolia was the very nice part Turkish/part Lebanese restaurant that opened a few years ago in the Marketplace on Dr. Phillips. I visited a couple of times and liked it a lot.
Now with Bosphorous moving in, the restaurant is all Turkish all the time. Most won’t notice a change in the menu; indeed the differences are subtle. You also won’t notice a change in quality. I’ve been a fan of the original Bosphorous on Park Avenue since it opened in 2005 and brought its exotic tastes to Winter Park, and they seem to have brought the same dedication to excellence to Restaurant Row.
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I stopped in with a friend recently to check the new place out. We started with an order of the wonderful lavas, the poofed up baked-to-order bread that looks like a dough-based Jiffy Pop topped with sesame seeds. It’s an impressive presentation, all puffed up and intimidatingly large. But it’s hollow inside, and as soon as you poke it and tear it apart, you can start enjoying it with the appetizers.
We tried a few appetizers, including a couple of the more popular dips, the ezme and the haydari, the latter a thick, creamy yogurt flavored with dill and mint, with walnuts mixed in. The ezme also had walnuts, but was concocted of chopped tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, and red onions, seasoned with garlic, parsely, peppers and lemon juice. The two dips were distinctly different, but I liked them both and kept slathering them onto the torn bread.
We also had the arnavut cigari, an unusual presentation of pan-fried pieces of liver tossed with crinkle-cut fries and red onions. I’m not usually a fan of liver, but this was just wonderful.
Our entree was the mixed grill, which featured mainly lamb and chicken prepared in various ways. We had them as kofte, or patties, kebabs, and as steaks, if you will. The plate also had the traditional doner meat, or what most Americans identify as gyro meat. It was all placed over a bed of jasmine rice, and served with salads of shredded carrots, onions, and red cabbage and beets. If that sounds like a lot of food, it was.
But did we stop there? No. No we did not. We also had the kunefe, an unusual dessert of Turkish cheese coated with a sort of shredded wheat, baked and topped with chopped pistachios and decorated with a couple of baklava. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet. It was delicious, and much too much on top of too much already (but I took it home to enjoy later).
I was also delighted with the wine we had, a bottle of Kavaklidere’s Cankaya, a Turkish wine with characteristics similar to sauvignon blanc but made with emir, narince and sultana grapes from vineyards around Anatolia, as coincidence would have it. Crisp and fruity but not too sweet.
Service was first rate. Everyone was friendly, attentive and helpful. Even chef Halil Ertane stopped by to see how we enjoyed our meal. I was concerned when I first arrived because the restaurant was nearly empty. But by the time we were ready to leave, nearly all the tables were filled. Apparently there are lots of Bosphorous fans in the Dr. Phillips area who are glad they no longer have to drive to Winter Park for their Turkish fix.
Bosphorous is at 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd. (at Sand Lake Road), Orlando, and 108 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to bosphorousrestaurant.com. The phone number on Restaurant Row is 407-352-6766 and 407-644-8609 in Winter Park.