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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, July 21

Gapers Block

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I have to be honest. When I'm debating where to eat out, it is rare that I consider venturing to Roscoe Village, unless, of course, I have a taste for Victory's Banner or the soon-to-be reopened Hot Doug's. Besides these two stellar culinary spots, it amazes me that in an area of town hailed by many people to be "so cute and trendy," there aren't more decent places to eat. That is, until now.

Turquoise Café, a mid-priced Turkish restaurant that opened across the street from La Mora two months ago, gives me new reason to make the trek. Sure, this place has a couple rather humorous kinks to work out -- that's to be expected with a newly opened restaurant -- but my overall positive dining experience leads me to believe that we are going to be reading about this place for months to come. And judging from the packed house on a recent Thursday evening (very impressive for a spot as new as this), I'd say there are a lot of people who would agree with me.

The interior of the Turquoise Café is cozy and inviting with wood accents, white tablecloths and warm, muted lighting. But right now it is the darling outdoor patio -- offering a spectacular view of the surrounding "cute and trendy" neighborhood -- that attracts the most patrons.

A word of caution if you opt to sit outside: Choose your table wisely. A few of the tables -- in particular, the one we were seated at -- are situated on uneven ground. Our server was able to prop up our table with a coaster to keep it from wobbling, but she could do little about the fact that our chairs were also positioned on a slight incline, making for mighty sore bums by the end of the meal.

Fortunately, our dinner was so delicious that we were able to forget the pervading numbness in our backsides. We started with glasses of citrusy Turkish white wine (decently priced at $6 each) and a grilled calamari appetizer so fresh and tender it needed only a sprinkle of lemon juice to render it sublime. The complimentary bread was also worthy of mention -- all warm and buttery and covered with sesame seeds. We had to be careful not to fill up on the first course.

A variety of kabobs ($11.95-$13.95) are listed on the menu and my dining companion, after consulting with our helpful server, decided on the onion kabob (a truly misleading name, as I will soon explain). A tasty ground lamb and beef kabob was accompanied by variety of grilled vegetables including banana peppers, garlic cloves, tomatoes and a few onions (though not nearly enough to warrant calling it an "onion kabob"). The entire dish was covered with a light, tangy pomegranate sauce -- definitely a great choice for a hot, summer evening.

My entree was even better. On a recommendation from our server, I ordered the peppercorn-crusted tuna ($15.95). She didn't ask me how I wanted it cooked -- I had forgotten to tell her I liked it rare -- and I worried all through out first course that the chef would cook it all the way through, ruining a good piece of fish. Alas, my fears were assuaged when the meal was delivered: A huge tuna steak was sliced across the dish, perfectly seared on the outside and beautifully raw red on the inside. The fish was deliciously fresh, and while I usually forgo any sort of sauce, choosing instead to savor the subtle flavor of the meat itself, I found myself again and again dipping the tuna into the delightful raspberry soy sauce drizzled across my plate. A cold salad of sliced potatoes, tomatoes and onions sprinkled with a vinaigrette proved the perfect companion to this meal.

To top off this wonderful meal, we ordered baklava ($3.95) for dessert and were once again awed by the quality of the food. This warm, buttery pastry, oozing with nuts and brown sugar, melted in our mouths. Order a hot cup of Turkish coffee to enjoy with this sweet and you'll experience an end to a meal like no other.

Turquoise Café touts itself as a modern Turkish restaurant, and I should definitely point out that the menu items (as you can probably tell from my descriptions above) are clearly Turkish-inspired rather than completely authentic. Still, this is no way takes away from the experience. True, the service is a little slow as the staff adjusts to increasing crowds, but with charming atmosphere, excellent food and modest prices (for the amount and quality of food served), I'd say this place is definitely on the verge of being a success.

Looks like I'll be seeing you in Roscoe Village, eh?

Turquoise Café is located at 2147 W. Roscoe.

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Naz / July 19, 2004 1:11 PM

This place sounds excellent. Makes my mouth water — the seafood sound good. I've had a hard time finding good calamari. I'm also impressed by the price of the tuna dish - very affordable and sound like it was done well. To Roscoe Village!

Murat Bozdag / August 13, 2004 12:57 PM

Turquoise Cafe, deserves a big applause, for the quality of food, service and atmosphere.
Thank you Shah and the rest of the crew, it was, is and will be always a great place to dine and gather with your friends and loved ones.


About the Author(s)

Kim Conte loves to write and eat, and dreams that one day someone will pay her a lot to do both.

If you feel the need to get in touch with her directly, instead of using the comments below, do so at .

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