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Friday, October 19, 2012

Nashville Food Friday: Istanbul

A review of Istanbul Restaurant turkish cuisine in Nashville Tennessee
Istanbul was a Yelp! find for me. I wanted to take my best friend Jeff out for his birthday. When I asked what he wanted to eat, he just said "Mediterranean." So I went off on a quest to find what looked to be the best Mediterranean restaurant, which led me to Yelp!, which led me to Istanbul. Istanbul does traditional Turkish cuisine quite well. The restaurant itself isn't fancy- it is located next to a funeral home on Nolensville Road (we accidentally turned into their parking lot), the decoration is minimal, there are a few posters and a TV, but not much else. But that is OK. The star here is the food.
Baba Ganoush at Istanbul Restaurant turkish cuisine in Nashville Tennessee
We started our meal off with some fresh Baba Ganoush. Over time, I've had some really good Baba, and some terrible Baba. (Tastes like an ash tray comes to mind). But Istanbul's Baba Ganoush is THE BEST EVER. It was creamy and tasty. The paprika added the right amount of spice and I couldn't stop dipping pita in it (notice the picture above, I couldn't wait to take a picture to start digging in). I basically finished this whole thing myself (with a little help from my friends).
Soup at Istanbul Restaurant turkish cuisine in Nashville Tennessee
My meal came with a soup and I ordered the Tarhana. It is a yogurt soup with spice. It reminded me a bit of a spicy tomato soup with Greek yogurt mixed in. The yogurt made it thick, almost chunky at points. I have never had anything like this. On first taste I wasn't a fan. But I actually went BACK to Istanbul on another occasion, had the Tarhana, and really enjoyed it. I guess it's one of those things that just grows on you.
Lamb at Istanbul Restaurant turkish cuisine in Nashville Tennessee
For my entree I chose the Kuzy Platter. Lamb is one of my favorite meats and I always enjoy the Mediterranean versions of it. I was blown away by the size of the leg of lamb that arrived. It was the size of my head. NO JOKE. I was so happy with my dinner choice. The lamb was fall off the bone tender. Touch it with a fork and it just broke into pieces. And the fat! OH, the fat. This piece of lamb was full of it and it made my mouth sing. Tender lamb fat. *DROOL* And not to be overlooked, the rice was really good!
Kebab Combo at Istanbul Restaurant turkish cuisine in Nashville Tennessee
The boys had the big combo and the regular combo. I ordered the regular combo on my second visit so I could find out what all the fuss was about (Jeff and Steve were VERY happy). I chose my combo with a beef kabob, gyro meat and Kofta instead of the chicken. I enjoyed everything on that plate, especially their gyro. It was so much food that I wound up taking home enough leftovers for a second dinner. SCORE. 
Since it was Jeff's Birthday we had to order dessert! I was traditional and stuck with the Baklava. I love me some Baklava. This was really good and not overly sticky and sickly sweet. Although, I do believe that my friend Ayzit makes the best Baklava, but I could be biased. The staff also brought us some other treats to try (and I can't remember what they were called). One was a cookie covered in powdered sugar and the other was a cookie soaked in honey/sugar sauce. Both were really good, and I'm sure both were really bad for you.
I really love Istanbul, but for more reasons than the delicious food. The staff at this restaurant must be the nicest people ever. Our waitress was super funny and very kind. The gentleman who cooked our food came over to talk to us about what we thought of it (I think he might be the owner). The staff here makes you feel like family and I'll keep on coming back just for that reason.

Also, Istanbul has a Scoutmob deal available right now. It's half off your order, up to $10 I think. So go with a friend and get one meal for free. Do it. For Real.
Istanbul on Urbanspoon

12 comments:

  1. Ohhhh that looks so delicious!! Just all of it. I want all of it. YUM.

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  2. Oh man! That looks sooo amazing! I LOVE Mediterranean food, my favorite being Moroccan (quite similar to Turkish) I'm so hungry now and craving all of the above!!

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    1. I've never really had official Moroccan food. I've cooked some stuff at home from a recipe, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't authentic. I really need to find a Moroccan place next! You don't happen to know of any in Nashville?

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    2. haha, sorry no idea, I haven't had any since I left Belgium, we have more Moroccans in the city I lived in than dutch people, their food is absolutely amazing, my friends used to bring leftovers to school for lunch, we would trade and I would be in heaven!

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  3. I had no idea what baba ganoush was, but i just googled it and nearly drooled. Eggplant is amazing, I'm gonna have to try making it!!

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    1. Oh you should! I bet homemade will be better than anything you can find in a store. Let me know how it goes!

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  4. The Baba Ganoush looks so yummy! Aaaand so does that baklava. Good restaurant find!!

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    1. Totally! I really hope a lot of people start going there. They are so nice!

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  5. Yum. That lamb looks so good! The soup sounds amazing too.

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  6. we live really close to istanbul and eat there ALL THE TIME. when we moved in and had our kitchen redone we ate their falafel almost every night. their fries are amazing too. and their sweet tea! i don't know what kind of tea they use but it is subtly spiced and amazing.

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    1. I haven't had their felafel yet but I will try it for sure next time. I went to Israel like, 5 years ago and ate WAY TOO MUCH FELAFEL and never got back into the swing of it. Perhaps it's time I venture out and retry the golden chickpea nugget.

      French Fries? I'll get those too.

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  7. Lauren, how the heck did I miss this post on Turkish food?!?! I thought I read every blog post of yours! Anyway, I *still* haven't been to this restaurant, but it sounds like it is better than Anatolia on White Bridge Rd...thoughts? Maybe the meat dishes at Anatolia are better, but as a vegetarian, I was disappointed and thought it was overpriced. I *did* like their kunefe dessert though...it's different than baklava, but I bet you'd like it. Anyway, also thanks for mentioning me in this post! You da best.

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