I have a special fondness for Turkish food and after craving Turkish food for a few months we made a visit to Akdeniz Turkish Cuisine in midtown Manhattan. We went for the prix-fix menu and my favorite part about restaurants was that as soon as we entered after an exhausting day at work, we were promptly served some hot bread & olive oil. It was comforting to munch on some bread while I made up my mind on what to order.
For appetizers, we went for Lebni and Spinach Tarator both yoghurt based and finger-licking delicious. Lebni is a thick homemade yoghurt with walnut, garlic, dill & mint; while spinach tarator is sautéed spinach mixed with garlic, cream of yoghurt and walnuts. To me the combination of yoghurt and walnut was new and exciting, there’s no Indian dish I can think of which puts the two together. I sure have a tweak in mind for the Indian yoghurt-based dishes.
For mains, we ordered Chicken Shish Kebab and Skewered Ground Chicken. Both dishes were similar with respect to the way they were cooked (char grilled) & the fact that they were both served with rice and vegetables. I personally liked the skewered chicken better as it was better seasoned, there were peppers and the skewers were nice and moist. The kebabs were also cooked well, although they could definitely do with a little more seasoning. The sides I wasn’t sold on, the lettuce seemed far from fresh & the grilled tomato lacking seasoning. The sweet kraut side, I am personally not a fan of, so I don’t think it would be fair for me to say anything about it as I probably wouldn’t even like the best kraut.
For dessert, came a slightly caramelized Turkish Custard. I guess because I was told it would be a custard, I wanted it to be not so firm, the spoon would just not slide through. Added to that I thought it was too sweet for me to deal with. Unfortunately just an average dessert…
The other dessert was something that sounded extremely exciting on the menu but again was a sheer letdown. Kadayif, baked shredded wheat stuffed with walnut’s flavored with honey syrup, garnished with pistachios. I think it was the probably the bitterness from the wheat bran and the nutty flavor of the walnut itself which gave a slightly bitter aftertaste. Even the cloyingly sweet sugar syrup couldn’t mask this. This was the weakest link in the dinner for me.
The dinner started off on a great note with the refreshing starters, decent mains (good owing to the chicken skewers alone) but disastrous desserts. But if a place charges you as much as Akdeniz does, it is a let down the lettuce on your plate looks like it was chopped a couple of days in advance. Despite all these nitpicks, there was nothing more they could do to make the skewered chicken any better… I would still say it is overpriced and you would be able to find a better meal in Manhattan for less.
Most favorite dish: A no-brainer, the ground skewered chicken
Least favorite dish : Kadayif
Overall Verdict : 3/5
Pocket Pinch : $35 per person
This is my first restaurant review for NYC (NJ) and I wanted to start with my absolute favourite, so here I am reviewing Beechwood Cafe and Bakery. I L.O.V.E Beechwood & I refuse to tone down the emotion just in case you are unsure about visiting this spot.
Even when it comes to their decor there is hardly anything you can pick fault with. From the cosy feel, to their striped canopy, Marilyn Monroe poster to juice served in mason jars it’s all perfect.
Almost every component in the dishes I tried was spot on. Will start listing out my favourite dishes @ Beechwood.
Berry Mix Pancakes – These are by far the best pancakes I have had with real berries even in the pancake. Cherry on the cake (or here pancake) was of course the berry compote. Loved the fact that there was no berry jam thrown in. With real berries and lovely (non-soggy) pancakes one cannot ask for much more…
Fried Tofu Eggs Benedict – I was a little weary of ordering fried tofu as a lot of places serve rubbery chewy tofu in the name of frying it, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. The tofu was breaded, very light in texture & not oily. The soy based sauce with chillies for the tofu was another stunner. Eggs were of course done to perfection (as expected).
Home fries – This was the next surprise Beechwood had in store for us. They were crispy, perfectly seasoned with peppers and scallions, most importantly they were not oily or soggy. Though I have to confess that the home fries were not consistently as good on multiple visits… Sigh!
Belgian Waffles – These looked welcoming like the other dishes but I just had a bite so I cannot tell you much more than my friend definitely ate her plate clean and claimed it was good.
Cranberry Walnut Tart – This was just an ok dessert. I guess it was the freshness that it was missing…
Where : Grove St, Jersey City
Meal : Brunch
Pocket pinch : $$
Ambiance : Cosy
Links : Yelp (Please do not judge by the reviews on yelp alone as this place was recently renovated or so I hear)
Will I visit again: Having visited 4 times in 6 weeks I think this is a no-brainer… YES!
I was itching to give it a 4.5 but owing to the lack of consistency with the home fries, I had to hold myself back.
Rating : 4/5
Founder of the Mexican food chain is chef Thomasina Miers who is the winner of the Masterchef show. I visited this restaurant on the recommendation of a friend and was I glad he recommended it to me or what!?!
This restaurant is the place to visit for the Mexican street food and its cocktails though I need to confess that I fell head over heels in love with another dish altogether! For those of you who haven’t visited Wahaca, the way the ordering works around there is either you go for 2-3 small street food dishes or for one main. I think the sustainable element to it is very in-fashion as well – helps connect with the socially aware green folks. One of the negatives though for me is their site, it is just overly messy. Not sure if people find it cool but it is too crass for me.
The first time I visited Wahaca I tried a couple of their small eats – tacos, quesadillas and cocktails because that is what they are supposed to be known for. I found it quite okay but wasn’t blown away. Though the starters din’t knock my socks off, the sour cream was amazingly fresh and definitely deserves a mention!
The next time I decided to try the stuff I hadn’t up until now like their non alcoholic drinks, their main course, sides, deserts – what a decision that turned out to be. I ordered a non-alcoholic hibiscus drink, the freshness of that was just surprising, you could be sitting in London but one sip of that takes you right to a tropical destination right away. If someone said I was in Hawaii, I would very well believe it after that drink!
It was in this trip that I discovered the yummy succulent grilled chicken and instantly fell in love with it! It is perfectly seasoned, marinated for a good number of hours, cooked to perfection! Everything about that dish is just heavenly. It is served with coriander rice, hot pickled onions and some salad. I had asked for some extra pickled onions thats why there is a mountain of it in the pic below – I love the heat in them! Along with this I also ordered a fiery sweet potato side, gobbled it the instant it came so you can’t really see a picture of it here.
After all three of these, I was stuffed but decided to give dessert a shot and ordered a Mango sorbet. I don’t know if it was just me (don’t have much of a sweet tooth) or if I was too full to enjoy the desert, I thought the sorbet was a let down.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Price per person: £15 -£40