458 Greenwich Street, btwn. Watts & Desbrosses
PLACE: TURKS & FROGS
OCCASION: Perfect date place
VIBE: Trendy Mediterranean
DON’T MISS DISH: Char-grilled calamari
DON’T BOTHER: Lamb skewers
A LITTLE ADVICE: Stick to fish
RESTAURANT GIRL RATED: (1-10): 6
Finally awakening from an Easter Peeps sugar coma, I thought I should get out and see the world, so I traveled down to the Turkish side of Tribeca to check out the latest installment of Turks & Frogs. When the Cakir brothers first opened up an accidental wine bar in their West Village antiques shop, I dabbled in their Turkish wines and treats. But this time, they wanted to be taken seriously as culinary contenders on NYC’s food frontier.
Open less than a week and this moody Mediterranean space was already busy feeding a lively crowd. After slipping downstairs to glimpse the cavernous cellar adorned with romantic red walls and French wine barrels tragically reserved for only the most private parties, I returned to the dining room where Instanbul-inspired chandeliers delicately hung from high ceilings and candlelight bounced off the walls. I nibbled at a mosaic of Turkish meze, a practical ode to eggplant in every possible form.
While the over-stuffed, but unremarkable eggplant filled with peppers and onions, failed to make a tasty impression, I will always hold a special place in my heart for the perfectly tender char-grilled calamari touched by lemon and olive oil, quite possibly the freshest calamari I ever did meet.
Seducing me with a Turkish feast. I played hard to get with the overcooked lamb skewers, but I opened up over a baked orata, light and moist, and watched in awe as he put on quite a show over a flaming salt-crusted sea bass that drew oohs and aahs from the hungry audience.
I took my dessert in the back lounge on a comfy brown leather couch amidst other antique wares (everything’s for sale). As I nibbled on a traditional baklava, satisfyingly flaky yet gooey sweet, I pondered how much Oman,(think Turkish Romeo), would take for the 19th century French leather chair where a pair of lovebirds was presently canoodling. Love was definitely in the air that night at Turks & Frogs and for me, well, I’ll always have the calamari.