Turkish Food with Heidi
My daughter Heidi has always enjoyed food! 2 bonus points for having her home for the weekend from Austin and getting to add her to the Diverse Dining List blog! Her dinner manners have improved quite a bit since this picture 22 years ago, but she still enjoys and ponders the flavors with the same intensity!
Upper Kirby, in Houston
Heidi and I got on the internet to brainstorm what kind of food we had never tried. It had to fit into our small window of time mid Saturday and it needed to be casual so Heidi could wear her only clean clothes, a Michigan tee shirt. ( the washer did numerous loads over the weekend!)
So we decided on Turkish food at Turquoise Grill, on Upper Kirby. After 45 minutes of driving, (half the time in road construction traffic) we arrived at this small restaurant, tucked into the ground floor of a mid-rise office complex. We put aside all our grumbling over traffic when we were greeted by owner/chef, Yilmaz "Jim" Dokuyucu upon entering!
Jim, with his huge smile and turquoise shirt showed us to the table...with turquoise napkins. (do like that color...1 bonus!) We talked for about 10 minutes, about everything from Jim's degree in chemical engineering to his work in textiles... to the mayor of Sugar Land and of course his passion for his restaurant.
Then Jim brought over two young, Turkish grad students who work with him and we all chatted some more! As I've said before, my dining ratings have only so much to do with food. "People encounters" at restaurants rate highly and Jim and his friends could not have been more welcoming and delightful! 6 bonus points!.
A basket of complimentary shepherd's bread arrived early, sprinkled with sesame seeds and an olive oil, feta and herb dipping sauce. Heidi and I agreed this was worth the 45 minute drive!
We had to be careful not to fill up on bread, which we also dipped into an order of hummus. Then, we shared a platter of mixed grill. The refreshing cucumber dip and veggies helped balance out the hearty, perfectly seasoned and tender chicken, lamb and tenderloin. My favorite was actually the gyros, which was a surprise to me. I expected them to be be less tender, but they melted in my mouth with a bit of the jasmine rice!
I expected Turkish food might taste a little like Greek or Middle Eastern, but the Turkish brick oven offered us some different surprises! This Sucuk Pide, which is described as a calzone with Turkish beef-sausage, was a real treat! I have to admit I kind of like pizza and calzone oozing with extra cheese...but now I'm a fan of this fresher tasting dish with feta cheese and lighter, crispy dough. The sausage added a little zing, too. Yea!
Baklava and Turkish Tea
After we finished our meal, Jim insisted we relax a little longer with some complimentary baklava and Turkish tea. ( he said the extra baklava was for Heidi) Not only was that a generous gesture, but it was a nice reminder that in this day and age you really can linger over lunch.
How different a meal experience is, when you sit back and sip on something warm. (even on a hot day, Jim insisted) True! Ah, to relax after a meal...however, I can't tell you how I hated it when my parents ordered coffee after a restaurant meal, when all I wanted was to get back home and play. But there is something so satisfying about savoring the dining experience!
Food Points!! I usually give 5 points at the most, but I'm giving 5 plus 2 bonus for the great food at Turquoise Grill!
Now this is just a woven wall hanging I found in the hall near the restroom, but I'll use this photo to describe the atmosphere of the restaurant. I have no interior shots, since I was trying not to click my camera obnoxiously at the few diners!
I liked the European deli feel of this quaint place. There's nothing new and flashy about it, like I'm assuming you'll see at the new Turquoise Grill that Jim has just opened in Sugar Land. But I like the casual layout with framed maps and photographs on the walls. I like seeing a few diners who seem to be regulars and might even be Turkish. Once again, I like a place that takes me on a trip somewhere else. This is as close to Turkey as I may ever get! So 5 bonus points for atmosphere!
Total points for Turquoise Grill - 21!!! Oh yes my ratings continue to climb!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.