Flatiron Lunch: Turkish Kitchen Celebrates 20 Years With $10 2 Course Lunch Special
Every Friday our man UltraClay goes south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
Last week, while I was in Kips Bay visiting the (apparently controversial) L’Annam, I came across Turkish Kitchen. Walking by, it looked a little too fancy to pay attention to – until I saw the sign out front advertising their $9.95, two course lunch special celebrating their 20th Anniversary. That definitely got my attention.
When I walked into Turkish Kitchen, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. When a fairly swanky looking place like this offers a deal, it’s usually for a couple lesser dishes and they do everything they can to up-sell you. On my first visit, they didn’t even try to get me to order a drink, I had a regularly refilled glass of water and there was no issue at all. Even better, the lunch special lets you choose between 15 starters and 10 mains. There’s another lunch special that offers more for $16.95, but all you really get over the cheaper deal is a couple of fish options, a salad course, a dessert of the day and coffee. Nice, but not worth the extra $7 to me.
On my first visit, I started with the lentil soup. Thick and served scalding hot, I spent the first 10 minutes dipping my bread into it (they give you bread!) while it cooled. After that, it was perfect for warming me up in this wretched weather. It was also filling enough that by the end, I was suddenly concerned about having enough space for course number two.
I shouldn’t have worried. I could have been full to the point of bursting, the iskender kebab I ordered was so good I’d have kept eating it anyway. Thin slices of lamb in a yogurt sauce over a bed of pita bread slices, the meat was thick enough to be meaty and flavorful. The sauce was sweet but with that tangy sourness of the yogurt. Mixed with the juices from the meat, it all soaked into the pita bread leaving it almost cheesy in texture.
On my second visit I started with manti, a bowl of small, soft poached dumplings filled with nuggets of beef and immersed in the same sort of tangy yogurt sauce that I liked so much in the iskender kebab. If I had any complaint here, its just that the beef bits were tiny, but the dish wasn’t really about being a vehicle for meat and it worked anyway.
I followed that with a platter of kofte that concerned me at first look. The dish was definitely smaller than the iskender kebab and, in contrast to my first visit, I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough food. That wasn’t a problem. The kofte ‘cigars’ of lamb were grilled to about medium temperature, and were rich and juicy enough that each bite wanted to be savored, not scarfed down.
On top of that, the rice is firm and sticky, similar to the glutinous rice you’d get at a Thai restaurant. The chunks of potatoes on the side were deep fried like stubby french fries. I cleaned the plate and walked out wiping lamb juice from my chin.
The biggest problem with Turkish Kitchen is that with so many good options available, I might start getting spoiled and expect this sort of thing everywhere.
Turkish Kitchen, 386 3rd Avenue (btw. 27+28th), 212-679-1810