When I was a vegetarian, Turkish and Greek places were usually a staple of eating out. It was for one simple reason: falafel. This involves ground chickpeas formed into balls and fried. My experience eating this usually involved having a few of them shoved into split pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki sauce. Sometimes, hummus would be used as a condiment instead if tzatziki. Both options suited me just fine. Honestly, it really was the veggie alternative to a gyro or a doner for me. So, you can imagine the excitement I felt recently when I walked into Istanbul Restaurant for lunch recently and saw that they added falafel to their menu.
I really enjoyed the falafel — it was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, and it wasn’t too spicy. Falafel usually fails for me when it tastes gritty, and this had a very smooth texture. However, I have to say I didn’t enjoy having thousand island salad dressing as a dipping sauce. But, that’s easily fixed. I ordered a delicious “usual.” Whenever I go to Istanbul Restaurant, I have to have …
Hummus. I found myself dipping my falafel into my hummus and ignoring the thousand island altogether. And let me be honest. I like thousand island sometimes on a salad, but not with Turkish food. Not at all. The two just don’t go together in my head at all. Istanbul does so many other good and saucy appetizers that it would be a good idea to pair their falafel with any of those while ordering. A few other new menu also things surprised me.
The place now has a Turkish version of cheese sticks. This particular item has a very soft cheese mixed with parsley. Then, it’s wrapped into thin pastry dough and fried. This is a stark reminder, though, that just because something is “vegetarian friendly” doesn’t make it quite “health food.” I noticed one or two more veggie friendly things on the new menu, but I didn’t have the time or money to try them all.
One things I love about Istanbul Restaurant is that they always seem to be willing to try new things while keeping the items their patrons love, like the pide, or Turkish pizza as it might be more commonly called. That bit of yumminess is always a reason for a return visit.