On a particularly bleak stretch of Conklin Street in Farmingdale, you'd hardly expect to find destination-caliber Turkish cuisine. But that's what you get at M & M Grocery and Grill, an unpretentious eatery that's attached to a grocery and halal butcher. Walk past shelves stocked with Turkish delicacies and enter a dining room that has four tables. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, you order at the counter and, maybe, grab a drink from the grocery refrigerator case.
To spread on the gratis warm house-baked bread, you'll want to order some dips. Hummus, herbal and nutty, unfolds on the palate with almost startling vibrancy. So, too, does smoky eggplant salad. Ezme, spiced mixed vegetables, has a nice kick. One can't help but wish, though, that everything wasn't served refrigerator-cold.
If it's something hot you crave, try a bowl of resonant lentil soup. Cigar rolls, or feta-stuffed phyllo dough, come out of the deep fryer crisp, pungent and salty.
A standout here is pide, a calzone-like stuffed pie served cut into wedges for eating out-of-hand. One version, stuffed with a mixture of lamb and cheese, comes out opulent, savory and oily in the best possible way. Another fine dish to share is lahmacun, a thin flatbread spread with ground lamb, beef and vegetables. Fold over a wedge and eat it like a slice of pizza; it goes down easy.
Main courses are accompanied by bulgur and rice, as well as a gratis romaine salad. Neither those greens nor the watery, nondescript shepherd's salad seem worthy of head chef Murcel Yalbuzdag's kitchen. From the steam table, one afternoon, comes a special of stuffed cabbage, deftly sauced and seasoned. Juicy and spicy Adana kebab excels, whether done with spiced chopped lamb or with chicken. Then, there are chicken chops, succulent grilled marinated boneless thighs that, one afternoon, are inexplicably plated with a slab of boneless breast that turns out to be almost as juicy. Yaprak doner, spit-roasted lamb and beef, is the Turkish version of gyro. It works well on its own and excels in Iskender kebab, plated atop bread, doused with tomato sauce served with yogurt. Overcooking only slightly mars the moist, flavorful lamb kebabs as well as the thin lamb chops.
Even better than the creamy rice pudding from the dessert case is the nut-studded almond pudding and a Turkish-style chocolate pudding that's more bittersweet than sweet. It's a revelation served in a plastic to-go container -- an appropriate metaphor for this Farmingdale find.