There's a new Turkish bar and grill in town. It's called Turkish Bar & Grill. And what it lacks in name creativity, it makes up for in many other ways.
We were just here a few months ago, not at TB&G but in this same space. Then it was a place called Wassabi Asian Fusion. Based on my experience there, its closing wasn't a surprise.
The new tenants changed precious little about the interior. That's a picture of Turkish Bar & Grill at the top; I've included one of Wassabi at the bottom of this review. With the exception of daylight through the windows at Wassabi and some Turkish rugs thrown over the decidedly unattractive green beams it's pretty much the same. (I was even seated at the same table — you'd be surprised how often that happens.)
But everything else about the dining experience here has changed with the new ownership. I was warmly greeted upon my arrival and graciously served throughout the dining experience. And the quality of the food was quite good. Ingredients were fresh and of good grade and each dish was expertly prepared. My only quibble is that I wish that the spicing and seasoning of the dishes had been a bit more forward. But otherwise, I would gladly recommend Turkish Bar & Grill.
My guest and I started with appetizers of sauteed eggplant and Lahmacun. Lahmacun is a type of pide, which is sort of a mini Armenian pizza — flat round crust platform topped with ground beef. The menu said that the portion was three pieces, but it was actually three pides, each about the size of a 78 RPM record (yes, I'm that old). The pides were accompanied by pickled onions, tomatoes and parsley. Those ingredients are meant to be rolled into the Lahmacun as sort of an oversized taco.
The eggplant was wonderful, perhaps the best of the several dishes we ordered. It included tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions and garlic done ratatouille-like.
The okra saute was also a favorite and had similar ingredients and preparation. We opted to have lamb added (a nice vegetarian option without, by the way). All of the ingredients were ample and fresh, but we found ourselves wanting some seasonings to add— perhaps some harrisa on the side?
The Stuffed White Cabbage, too, were a bit muted in their flavors, despite all the ground beef, rice, onions, tomatoes, mint, parsley, garlic and peppers packed inside the sizable packages. They were doused with tomato sauce and decorated with yogurt drizzles.
Our food took a rather long time to come out of the kitchen, and perhaps as a way of apology, the owner brought us some baked hummus with freshly baked sesame bread. I don't think I'd ever had my hummus baked before, but I would welcome having it again.
As I said, I felt welcomed and appreciated throughout my visit, and my guest and I were warmly thanked when we left. I will look forward to dining here again.
Turkish Bar & Grill is at 260 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-869-5555.