Monday, July 2, 2012

Lukewarm at Turkish House & Bistro

Turkish House & Bistro on Urbanspoon Turkish House & Bistro is a colourful little space that's interesting to visit, and has that friendly mom-and-pop restaurant vibe where you just know you'll be well fed for your money.

The decor looks chaotic, and if there's one thing that really hurts it, I'd have to say it's the mishmash of business cards under the glass on the tables. How archaic is that? And does it really help anybody?
Other than that, there are Turkish evil-warding charms (look for the white eye on blue glass nazar boncuğu) and rugs and artwork. There's also a big screen TV which is strangely not jarringly intrusive amongst everything else.

The tables are somewhat low, and you sit on wooden chairs that look like stock left over from a kindergarten. That, or low metal benches with lots of pillows. These are more comfortable (especially if you're about 190 pounds like myself and some of those chairs wobble a bit under you) but tricky to get in and out of as you have to coordinate with the other one or two persons sitting with you.

Our dining group on Friday was 11, and we gobbled up about half the seating in the restaurant. It can probably fit about 20, but expect traffic jams. I'm not sure the kitchen is experienced in handling large groups and putting everything on the table hot all at once, because nothing came to our table hot except the tea. It's hard to say if some stuff is meant to be not-piping-hot, but my unrefined but choosy palate says most of the stuff would have tasted better that way. It may be that if you order individually instead of as a large group, you'd get hotter food.

Anyway, on to the food! We ordered as a group, so it's hard to say what some of the exact portions were like if you were to order on your own.
  • Turkish Salad - tomatoes, cucumber, onion, green pepper, olives, & parsley in a lemon & olive oil dressing. $7
    • Tasted like tossed veggies with no dressing. Slices of lemon might have accounted for the lemon part of the dressing.
    • Honestly, why did we order this? There aren't a lot of veggie choices in this place, though.
  • Börek - phyllo pastry filled with your choice of cheese, spinach [and] potato, or ground beef. Saturday & Sunday only. $7.
    • These were rolled into almost-one-inch in diameter rolls, and chopped into bite-sized pieces for easy sharing.
    • We tried the spinach and potato, and the ground beef. Filling is somewhat light. Flavour on the spinach and potato was better than the ground beef. Overall, I think it would have been more interesting if it had come out hot from the oven.
  • Lahmacun - small thin-crust pizza with finely ground beef, tomato, garlic, & onion. $2.50 each.
    • These were about 8" rounds each. Very thin crust. Lots of beef, and the toppings were spread all the way to the edge. There's no crust to hold on to per se.
    • The dine out organizer recommended we pilfer some onion from the salad, but not to simply use it as a pita wrapping for a wad of salad.
    • You can't really argue with what's traditional, so if you'd disappointed because it doesn't have the same wood-fired burn, chewy fun, or cheesiness of a Neapolitan thin-crust pizza, then you're better off not ordering this. At $2.50, even at 8" and minus the cheese, the price is much lower than what Neapolitan pizza is selling for in Vancouver nowadays, though.
      • You could instead try their pide, which does have mozzarella.
    • Overall, I don't think I would order it again. Might possibly be different when hot. Price is fair for the portion and what you get, though.
  • Stuffed bell peppers.
    • Not sure where this was on the menu, but we got bell peppers of various colours stuffed with rice that looked like it had some ground beef mixed in and probably baked. Mostly it tasted like rice. Sat in some sort of tomato soup that may have been hot at one point, but the generous glob of cold white yogurt (?) rendered everything lukewarm at best.
    • Honestly, it didn't taste that great warm. Even the rice inside the peppers was warm at best.
    • I'm not good with bitter flavours, so the big green bell peppers were the worst. The orange ones were a bit sweet, which was a nicer flavour to go with the rice and contrast with the tomato sauce.
    • The sheer amount of rice going on here will see you pretty full. We somehow ended up with one big green bell pepper plus 1-2 small ones. This, plus one lahmacun each, and nibbles of börek and salad saw us all pretty stuffed.
  • Baklava - Turkish style with pistachios - $1.50
    • This is a square of almost 6 cubic inches. Apparently the chef cooks up different styles of baklava, so what you read here might not be exactly what's available. What we had, though, saved dinner in my opinion.
    • Pistachio is a mandatory ingredient. Not as prominent in the baklava we had.
    • Very buttery in taste and aroma, but not without feeling greasy.
    • Not as sweet as some others that are honey-drenched. This may or may not be a plus for you. I rather liked that it wasn't so sweet.
I didn't get to see the bill, but including a very strongly brewed tea, it was $15 per person including tax, excluding tip.

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