“Mesmerizing Mezelars and More…” Review of Turks & Frogs
BY ELENA MANCINI
Located on a desolate strip of far west Tribeca, Turks & Frogs is a Mediterranean oasis. The interior is an airy space, where sensuous hues of red are contrasted with light earthen tones and artisinal stuccos. While the decor evokes the austere elegance of Byzantium– from the stained glass chandeliers to a court-yard like space in the rear dining room–the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed and can readily transport you to a more imaginitive, tranquil state of mind.
I had the delight of discovering Turks & Frogs on my birthday two years ago. It was a perfect spring day and a friend and I decided to wander around Hudson River Park and Tribeca. Happily, we stumbled upon the open-store-fronted Turks & Frogs. We had a sumptuous lunch of assorted mezelers and Turkish white wine. Because there’s so many fine eating establishments to sample and explore in this city, I rarely become a repeat-customer of restaurants, but thanks to many satisfied subsequent visits to Turks & Frogs, it has become one of my standard Tribeca lunch or dinner destinations.
Lunch and dinner tabs are reasonable. The list of wines is predominately Turkish, but it also encompasses French and Italian varieties. The service is courteous and can seem distracted at times. However, it is never rude or rushed.
The Patlican Salatasi is a wonderful subtle and refreshing choice. The grilled eggplant has a mild smoky flavor and is fillet to a creamy consistency–no hints of seeds or wateriness. The olive oil bestows character without overpowering.
Made from a supple Greek yogurt with low acidity, the lebni is bright with lemony zest and vibrant dill. The walnuts add flavorful and grounding texture. This dish pulsates with satisfying freshness.
The Yalanci dolma are made from smooth, fresh grape leaves that are tender without being soggy. The rice filling is deliciously flavored with currants and cinnamon, which give it subtle aromatic notes.
However you feel about zucchini and the blossoms they stem from, the mucver are a must–plain and simple! The texture and flavors are so enticing that I have often had two rounds of these and supplemented my meal with cold mezelers.
While Turks & Frogs does not get the crown for the ultimate Falafel dish, it serves up a falafel platter that certainly holds its own amid an increasing array of Middle Eastern restaurants in the city. These non-greasy bite size chick pea dumplings are hard on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside. The tahini swirls offered a good proportion of moisture. My only complaint was that the outsides were overdone.
For traditional dinner entrees, Pilic Topkapi (cornish hen stuffed with rice) and Hunkar Begendi (lamb in tomatoe stew with eggplant chunks) are excellent choices. Entrees range from $16 – $25.