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63° Good Afternoon
Chicken chops are served with zucchini and pilaf

Chicken chops are served with zucchini and pilaf at Cafe Taka, a restaurant in Bay Shore serving Mediterranean and Turkish dishes. (April 22, 2011) Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

Mike Sarac, a longtime player on the L.I. Turkish restaurant circuit, recently took over a little pocket of a place in Bay Shore that has housed a string of losers.

What he's done is turn it into a veritable kebab magnet.

That said, just don't go expecting frills. Seating can be tight and, at times, Sarac takes on the dual role of waiter and chef.

Rewards are on the plate -- and the tab. Only one item (lamb chops) exceeds $20.

TASTEFUL

Soups are super. There's lentil, vibrant in flavor and deep coral in hue. And citrusy chicken lemon laced with colorful diced vegetables, fortified with rice. Sarac puts out an ultra-fresh shepherd's salad of diced bright tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and lots of parsley and dill. Listed as an entrée but more of an appetizer is Sarac's superior chargrilled octopus salad, tender tentacles dressed with olive oil, dill and red wine vinegar.

Smooth hummus is rife with overtones of garlic and tahini; baba ganoush is hard to stop eating. So, too, Sarac's aptly named eggplant delight, pan fried with peppers and onions in tomato-garlic sauce. And how well the tart jajik (house-made yogurt with cucumber and dill) plays against Sarac's quintessentially comforting zucchini pancakes.

Hot off the grill: irresistible kofte (Turkish burgers made with beef and lamb) and well-spiced Adana kebab (ground lamb with red pepper and garlic). Also chicken chops -- boned dark meat marinated and grilled to a succulent turn. Lamb kebabs are tender, rosy. A real surprise is how moist and juicy white meat chicken kebabs turn out. Especially fine: whole grilled branzino, delicate and savory.

Finish with kadayif, the sweet Turkish phyllo-and-nut pastry topped with shredded dough.

TURKEYS

Spinach pie (more of a bun) features soggy pastry, a lukewarm interior. Pita is commercial and ordinary.

BOTTOM LINE

A Bay Shore niche, nicely filled.

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