I’ve heard of Anatolia Café, but have never given it a second thought. My uncle and his partner would often rave about it, and I know others that have been fans since it was originally located in a forgotten strip plaza in South Euclid (it now sits comfortably on Lee Rd amid wonderful eateries and of course the theater). But for whatever reason, I was never tempted. Until recently. After hearing praises from so many about the area’s first and only Turkish restaurant, I figured I had to see for myself what all the hype was about.
I met two of my cousins for dinner on a very snowy Wednesday night, which almost added to the experience. We settled in, got straight to non-stop chatting and catching up and did something I’ve never done before – I let someone else order. In fact, I didn’t even open the menu except for a mere second. This is very uncharacteristic of me. I love to study each dish on a menu and read it from cover to cover, even after I’ve decided on a dish. In this instance, I let my cousins, whom both have been on several occasions, order apps and trusted the server with my dinner.
We started off sharing a mix of appetizers: haydari (yogurt dip with walnuts, garlic and fresh dill), stuffed grape leaves (rice, currants, pine nuts and dill), kisir (cracked wheat salad with red and green peppers, parsley, onions, olive oil and lemon), babagannush (eggplant blended with fresh garlic, tahini, and herbs), and hummus served with hot bread.
A small order of this was plenty for three to share and a nice way to start the meal. I thoroughly enjoyed each one, but was left wanting more of the babagannush. I could snack on that all night and be beyond content. The haydari was a close second with lots of fresh dill. The hummus I felt was just okay; I’ve definitely had better.
For dinner, our server quickly suggested the lamb adana, a house specialty. Chopped lamb, lightly seasoned, served over chunks of homemade Turkish bread swimming in thick yogurt with a light tomato sauce. This might be my new favorite comfort food. What a wonderfully different dish with great layers of flavor and texture. And there was so much food on my plate, I had to take half of it home (which was still quite good the next day). I’m happy I didn’t look at the menu. Though next time I will (and I will be back) because I need to try more Turkish favorites. They offer a lot of other lamb and beef dishes, seafood, and chicken specialties (and I’m told the lentil soup is the best around!).
The space itself is warm, cozy and larger than anticipated. There’s a small wine bar and what appears to be a nice summertime patio currently trapped under two feet of snow. Service was prompt, too, and more than happy to offer suggestions and explain certain dishes.
Never again am I going to wait this long to try something.