At Troy Turkish Grill, The Gyro’s the Order
I’ve been talking up Troy Turkish Grill for a while now in comments on Profiled Lunchers and on the forums, but it’s been high time that it gets the proper ML treatment. Despite them being out of bounds (40th and 9th) I’ve ordered from them in the past, and I’ve been really impressed by their gyro in terms of flavor, quality, and quantity (even though it pains me that a Turkish restaurant doesn’t call a Turkish dish by its Turkish name – doner kebab, people!) Having been to some pretty awesome Middle Eastern restaurants from all over the Islamic world in South Paterson, NJ (not really worth the schlep from Manhattan but good stuff for us Garden Staters) there’s always been decent variations on doner kebab/gyro/etc. Some are crispier, some are juicier, some are forgettable. It’s been a while since my last order, though – does Troy hold its own or is it all Greek to us?
Troy Turkish Grill sits on an unremarkable corner way out there, right across the street from ramen greatness at Tabata and a 2 Bros Pizza, and barely a block from the not-terrible 99¢ Fresh Pizza, so it’s another decent option if you’re going to/coming from Port Authority. They’re also on Seamless with a $12 minimum if you don’t feel like schlepping to the dank underpass of the bus lanes.
There’s not too much dine-in space. Good for a quick date night or an inexpensive bite on your way elsewhere.
The gyro (doner kebab!) is the star of the menu. Seriously, it’s perfect. I know it’s not a fair comparison to bring street meat into play, but if all the halal carts out there did gyros like Troy, there would be lines around the block for them. Not only is the individual pita pocket at least 3/4ths full of meat, it’s overspilling into the foil. Be careful if you walk and eat with this one – if it falls to the ground, you may well shed tears.
See this meat? It’s layered on with fat onto the meat tornado and thinly sliced. The way it should be done. It’s not finished on the griddle, they slice it right onto the pita. That fat layer is damn near weightless, the meat is perfectly done.
See the crispy side? This meat tornado is an F5 of tasty. It’s crisped by moving it closer to the flame as it spins. There’s a hunk of fat at the top that dribbles down the outside to keep things moist. The downside: that hunk of fat makes the whole assemblage a bit grease-prone. The wrapping was a tad on the oily side and I had to wipe down my camera when done. Nothing’s classier than degreasing a camera, let me tell you. Good for licking your fingers when you’re done, lousy for looking neat.
Here’s the adana sandwich! Yes, you’re right, it’s not the overflowing meat explosion that the gyro was. Sadly, what could be a glorious Turkish pita experience is saddled with a first glimpse of iceberg lettuce and mealy foodservice tomatoes. I know it’s a supply-chain thing that we can’t get heirloom tomatoes when they’re in season, but I just wish the big food supply purveyors at least had it as an option.
The adana itself is ground spiced lamb that’s wrapped around a skewer and grilled, rotating over a flame. It’s got a nice char on the outside and was decently moist on the inside. It wasn’t a fat-dripped juicy slice of meat tornado from heaven like the gyros, but it was decently done. It’s gotta be very easy to overcook meat wrapped this thinly.
I had ordered the spinach pie, mostly in hopes of deducing if it was their take on spanakopita or if it was actually a proper Turkish borek. Sadly, when I went to pick up the food, the guy told me they didn’t have any today, so he substituted in some tabouli. Always nice to be proactive, and now we know that they have a finite source of spinach pie. In-house or made elsewhere, my money’s on the latter. Maybe it’s not so huge a seller during the week? I’ll definitely be seeking it out again next time.
As you make your way through the thin slices of amazing in the gyro, there’s only more meat to greet you. Only at the end are you greeted with the anemic salad offering that was the unfortunate bulk of my adana sandwich. Within, though, there’s some kind of mint-onion garnish that helps break up the admittedly fatty, almost a tad bit greasy meat. The included cacik cucumber-mint-yogurt sauce is a must have to balance out the gyro’s saltiness and moistness, and they also threw some hot sauce on the side if you want it. To be honest, it didn’t lend anything and even spice fiends like me could live without it.
Once I got a few bites of salad sandwich with a meat crumb in them, I finally found some adana – and to be honest, while it was decent adana, I can’t believe that they charge $7.50 for this. The gyro costs only $6.95 – is the Turkish food economy of scale that drastically different? I guess there’s some serious labor/cost differential between individual adana skewers and one giant day-long meat tornado that just needs slicing. Still, I want more meat in my adana. I’m not risking my hard-earned lunch dosh on this little meat in a sandwich.
The tabouli was decent. Definitely freshly made, it was perfectly dressed with just enough lemon and oil to make it bright and not weigh it down. The bulgur wheat was springy and perfectly done. I didn’t set out for their tabouli but it was pretty darn good. Given that the spinach pie I wanted would otherwise be $3.50 and the tabouli is $5.25, it’s definitely worth what I paid for it but kind of pricey given how much I got. I don’t know if the $5.25 dosage gets you more than the container they gave me, but it was a good complement to the meal.
All told, I spent $11 before tax and tip for a big filling amount of food. While the gyro itself would be a full meal that could be dangerously close to itis-inducing, I’m glad I got the extra item with my adana. The fact that a good chunk of that filling food was salad filler is not an irony lost on me. I wish I had told my co-worker he should have been the one to get the adana, but alas, it is what it is. I guess this is just a public service that if you order the adana, order the platter so you don’t get stuck in a filler trap. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but the gyro was AMAZING. It’s like being asked to do the Macarena after a Fred & Ginger number. Even if you’re the best damn performer of the hallowed dance, you’re following the best in the business and it’s just not the same. But if you’re doing just a basic Macarena… it’s as forgettable as it comes.
As a final note that I didn’t take into consideration for the review: I ordered from Eat24hours.com and afterwards got a $5/off coupon code. Not bad if you want to try out a Seamless competitor. Doubly good if you use it to order from Troy and want to go back. It’s 5/6th of a gyro from them, after all.
The + (What the Greek horse-builders would say):
- A doner kebab by any other name wouldn’t taste as sweet – it’s one of the best out there.
- That’s a reasonable price for ALL THIS MEAT!
- Self-contained, portable, quick, tasty, and near a transit hub – this is a great little discovery.
The – (What the surprised Trojans would say):
- Stop faking us out with stuffing the bottoms with salad – give us what we paid for!
- If you’re gonna be Turkish, be Turkish! Call it right!
- Wait, this meat has fat dripping on it all day? Ewww.
Troy Turkish Grill, 539 9th Ave (on the corner of 40th)