Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sip Sak and a trip down Efes Lane

Sip Sak is located on 2nd avenue between 49th and 50th and is owned and operated by Bir Orhan Yegan. We came in and were quickly seated at a table along the wall mid-way down the narrow restaurant next to an ell-shaped bar. When the waitress came over, I asked if they had any Efes Pilsen in the house, which they did, so I ordered: Bir Efes bira, lutfen. It arrived at precisely the right temperature, but in a typical 12 oz. lager bottle--not the low, squat bottle I remember the last time I quaffed Efes, 27 years ago...But, notwithstanding my disappointment upon receiving the potato-masher bottle, it was as great as it was then--and same as it ever was. One quickly turned to Iki bira. And so it went.

I wanted S to try all the dishes I remembered so we started with a chopped salad appetizer, Coban Salata, consisting of finely chopped tomato, onion, cucumber, pepper and lemon olive oil. The cucumber nicely balances the acidity of the tomato and pepper give it that twist that plays Mozart on your tongue: Superb! We followed that with Turkish Pizza that basically an ultra-thin crusted red-pizza with ground lamb, and spices. Pretty much exactly how I remember it and faithful to the original recipe. For our main courses, S ordered the Musakka and I ordered a special which was a slab of grilled lamb, laid upon a soft bed of grilled pita, with onions and basil on the side, along with a hot green pepper and a roasted tomato atop it all. The presentation was gorgeous, the lamb was buttery-smooth and perfectly cooked, and the melding of ingredients showed Orhan's talents at their best. We finished with Baklava for S and Almond pudding for me and a cup of strong Turkish coffee to see us through the long walk west. Throughout our long meal we were fastidiously and politely waited on by the wait staff who were excellent. Orhan was overseeing the entire place and ensuring that everything was going smoothly in the kitchen and that all his customers were well taken care of out in the dining room. I motioned to him as he was passing and he came over and when I told him how much we enjoyed his place, and that this was my first taste of Turkish food in over 27 years, that served as a launching point into our reminiscing about Turkey of years past. We had a wonderful time there and although we did not know Orhan prior to our visit, we left feeling we had made a new acquaintance. I highly recommend you try this place the next time you're in town. You will not be disappointed. (PS: I skipped the Raki this time!)

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