It’s been some time since I was THIS excited about a restaurant. For one, because Turkish is one of my favorite cuisines, and this place is full of pleasant surprises (how about the fact that it exists directly across my work building and I never knew!).
Five-month-old Istanbul Cafe is really a Midtown gem. My friend/little sis Shazia and I literally stumbled upon this in search for a place to eat, the beautiful Turkish decor catching our eye first. We just got cozy on the low embroidered seats, when Shazia saw in the back a fluorescent sign: SECRET GARDEN.
We jumped up to see what that’s all about, and in the back of the restaurant is a beautiful courtyard with tables set out for some sweet outdoor dining. The waitress later told us it’s a new addition that’s only been open for a month now. We were already loving the ambiance, and held our breath for the food — phylo scrolls with feta cheese, chicken kebaab plate, and chef’s special.
The food comes out piping hot, the chicken kebaabs were tender and succulent, and the chef’s special (chicken with a tomato/yogurt gravy, topped with mushrooms, onions and parsley) which I ordered was really flavorful.
AND anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a long time hardcore fan of Ali Baba’s on the east side, but this place meets (maybe exceeds?) the food even there for me. It’s not as heavy but still doesn’t compromise on taste. All the food was just amazing.
I would definitely stop by here. The service was phenomenal (I thought they’d forget about us since we were the only ones eating in the back, but they were really attentive!), ambiance is beautiful, and food was great. My new favorite place! Oh and in case it matters to you, all the food there is halaal!
325 West 57th Street
btw 8th Ave & 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019