At Ephesus, the emphasis is on authentic Turkish food.
Forget ambience. The front room feels like a takeout shop; the more restaurant-like rear dining space falls somewhat short of swanky. Yet, when it comes to good eating, Ephesus often skewers the competition.
Slather the warm house-baked Turkish bread with any of the meze (dips), and you may not be able to stop. Ezme (spicy vegetable salad) is cool in temperature but explodes on the palate. I'm impressed with the smoky patlican salatasi (chargrilled eggplant salad) and revel in the interplay of garlic and tahini in the smooth hummus, drizzled with olive oil.
What I really go to town on are the latke-like zucchini cheese pancakes called mujver. They're crusty without, creamy within, served with yogurt sauce. Four of us share a potato pide, flat baked dough topped with potatoes and onions. So comforting.
I like the manti, house-made mini ravioli stuffed with ground beef and served in a casserole topped with hot yogurt sauce. And when cooler weather is upon us, you may crave the hearty shepherd's stew of chopped (not ground) lamb with peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onion.
Not surprisingly, grilled food rules. Both lamb kebabs and lamb chops are juicy and well marinated. Especially fine are kofte kebabs, chargrilled ground lamb patties. Both the spicy ground chicken Adana kebabs and the adroitly spiced white meat chicken kebabs ooze savory juices. And I love the dark meat boneless chicken chops. Accompanying are either a tomato-tinged bulgur pilaf or a white rice pilaf; both work.
As a finale, our waitress brings an assortment of sweet phyllo and shredded wheat pastries (baklava, kadayif, and kunefe) along with the light but firm kazandibi (custard) and sutlac (baked rice pudding). It's all so appealing, I'm hard-pressed to name a favorite.
ANY TURKEYS HERE?
The only real flop is grilled calamari, slippery ringlets of squid done with entirely too much garlic (and yes, there is such a thing).
With food - and prices - this satisfying, who needs fancy-schmancy?