Istanbul Cafe's Salad Platter and Turkish Desserts

Istanbul Cafe's Salad Platter and Turkish Desserts

Istanbul Cafe is a warm, comfortable spot that opened about a year ago in the old Le Biarritz space. In the afternoons, tables of men linger over glasses of sweet mint tea and a dessert or two. Although lamb and beef are cooked every which way here--in kabobs, as kofte, stuffed into manti dumplings--the substantial salads and boreks are a vegetarian's feast. And the display case up front holds a dizzying array of Turkish sweets that appeal to anyone with a pulse.

The cold appetizer platter ($12.95) shown above offers, left to right, hummus, lebni, stuffed grape leaf, chopped tomato-red pepper salad, and smoked eggplant salad. Oil-cured olives perch on top of each portion, and grilled pita bread comes on the side. Each salad tastes fresh and vibrant, but the lebni, so rich you could stand a spoon up in it, and the tomato salad are uncommonly good. The stuffed grape leaf contains rice mixed with currants, onions, and raisins to savory-sweet effect.

Istanbul Cafe's Salad Platter and Turkish Desserts

There are 18 different homemade Middle Eastern desserts offered, ranging from three different kinds of baklava, to almond pudding, to semolina cake in syrup. The burma kadayif ($5.95), above, is made from shredded wheat, baked, soaked in honey, and sprinkled with pistachio. The bottom is sticky-sweet, the top crunchy, the whole thing completely delicious.

325 West 57th STreet 212-655-9368

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