Restaurant >Talking Turkey
’Tis the season to talk turkey, but in this particular instance, we’ll forgo any chatter pertaining to juicy holiday fowl and focus on the Eurasian republic that gave us infamous prisons, headgear for Shriners and a particularly sticky, jelly-like confection. Straddling two continents and bordering eight countries, Turkey can lay claim to quite the diverse cultural and gastronomical heritage – a heritage the cooks at Dr. Phillips’ Anatolia clearly take great pride in. The snug eatery may not appeal to diners whining for wieners (a staple of the space’s previous tenant, Pup’s Tasty Dogs), but there are enough grilled meats (in all shapes and sizes) to keep the most ravenous flesh-fanciers appeased.
But Anatolia is more than just a kebaberia. The large selection of sautés sets it apart from other restaurants walking the line between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, as do some of their more intriguing items – tripe soup ($3.50), zucchini pancake ($7) and the heaping plateful of arnavut cigeri, or calves’ livers ($8). Liver has never really been a palate-perker for me, but the superbly crisp, pan-fried nuggets served here deserve mention. A fresh layer of tomatoes, red onions, lettuce and English cukes set the foundation for the dish, but they begged for a dipping sauce of some sort nevertheless. Sesame-specked lavash ($2) is akin to Indian naan and typically served in its inflated form, so we felt somewhat deflated when ours was served in a flattened state. Still, the bread caused a stir when dipped into the complimentary bowl of marinated olives, and more so when dipped into the plate of comforting hünkâr begendi ($16.50), a creamed dish of eggplant puree mixed with “imported” cheese (which I later found was mozzarella, not kasseri or kashkaval) and ladled with a healthy pour of tomatoey lamb stew. The dish, while filling, is truly sublime and worthy of its name, which translates to “sultan’s delight.” Stuffed grape leaves ($7) were devoured almost as quickly as the ones served up at the Social Chameleon. Whose are superior? It’s hard to say.
Kebabs, naturally, dominate the menu, and the mixed grill ($29.50; serves two) offers a representative sampling of meats offered – beef, chicken and, mostly, lamb. You get ground lamb, lamb shish, lamb chops, doner (80-20 mix of lamb and beef), chicken and one serving of kofte (50-50 mix of lamb and beef). Our waitress was gracious enough to swap the lamb shish kebab with its beef cousin for us, though it likely didn’t make a difference because all of it was good. The star of the platter was the succulent lamb chops – truly outstanding – with the spicy ground lamb a close second. Adding a slab of the swordfish kebab to the platter would offer the ruminant-shy a greater variety.
To end, Turkish coffee ($3) or Turkish tea ($1.50) is a must, best enjoyed with syrupy wedges of homemade baklava ($5), which were spectacular. Kazandibi ($4.50), a baked, caramelized milk pudding dusted with cinnamon, was another stellar ending.
Tables and chairs, while large and comfortable, are crammed into the small space, but save for this ploy at maximizing profits, every other facet of Anatolia is a delight, Turkish or otherwise.