The Turkish bread known as lavas comes out of the oven as a golden pouf, seed-sprinkled and brown at the edges. You are meant to use your hands to pull it apart. But you must be careful when you poke a hole in the top, as fragrant steam comes rushing out.
The bread, a well-spent $2.50, is the ideal vehicle for any of the dips served at Bosphorus Cafe Grill, Port Washington's new Turkish restaurant. A five-dip assortment ordered at one dinner includes hummus, ezme (spicy chopped vegetables), babaganoush, eggplant salad and tabbouleh (a bright cracked wheat and vegetable salad). Good as they are, though, it's that puffy bread that steals the show.
Another night begins with pan-fried zucchini pancakes -- flavorful, if a bit thicker and heavier than you might like. Four diners make fast work of a pide, a savory boat-shaped pastry ordered with a spinach and feta filling. A shepherd's salad of chopped cucumber, tomato, pepper, red onion and a shower of feta is especially vibrant.
While chicken Adana kebab (skewered spiced ground chicken) turns out somewhat dry, lamb Adana kebabs spurt spicy juices. Juicy, too, are white meat chicken kebabs. And lamb kebabs, cooked to a proper medium-rare. Chef co-owner Paul Cecen's house-made lamb-and-beef doner kebab, or gyro, may make you forget all other versions. Delectable, as well: kofte kebab, grilled lamb and veal patties. Another fine choice: chargrilled whole St. Peter's fish (aka tilapia) features crackly crisp, spiced skin overlaying a flaky white interior. It also may be ordered filleted.
But a sauté of chicken with vegetables in lemon sauce, while not bad, lacks lemon flavor. In fact, all it needs is a crust to become chicken potpie.
Check out the tray of desserts proffered at the end of dinner. It's worth waiting 10 minutes for the baking of kunefe, a shredded-wheat pastry with melted cheese and a crown of chopped pistachios and honey syrup. Highly recommended: the airy caramelized milk pudding called kazandibi. And lush rice pudding. And a rich, creamy flan that could give Latin restaurants a run for the money.