Oh New York. How you constantly surprise me with your endless options of food; from family style to nouveau haute cuisine, my palate has enjoyed the variety. That said, there are times when I just want a good, generous plate of food without the frills – this is what I found at Savann Turkish restaurant on the Upper West Side.
Upon entering, I was greeted by the waitress (who proved to be slightly incompetent unfortunately) who sat me in a comfy booth as I waited for Alexis, my date for the evening. The place wasn’t busy, but the few who were in there appeared to be locals. I take this as a good sign. It was a beautiful day and the windows/doors to the sidewalk were open and blowing in a nice breeze. Time for a drink. I had the Huckleberry Lemonade which is what it sounds like: lemonade with alcohol in it. It was good, but very sweet and STRONG. I guess I can allow that.
Enter Alexis. Our friendship is based on the mutual feelings of constant hunger, so we ordered everything pretty quickly and had a nice sampling of the dips and spreads: Cacik, Hummus and Babaghanoush. Classic and delicious, I could eat these every day with warm bread. The cacik with thinner than I expected, but it tasted perfect – cool and refreshing yogurt with cucumbers and garlic – similar to the Greek tzatziki. Went well with our entrees too but more on that later…
Hummus. God bless the chickpea. Here’s a fun fact about me: I eat hummus every day. I don’t know why but I am basically obsessed with hummus, so I have had my share in this city and Savann’s was right up there with the great ones. Thick and creamy but still had that slightly grainy texture that spreads so well on the crusty bread; a little drizzle of olive oil and mmm…
For those of you who claim to not like babaghanoush, I beg for you to give it another try. Smoked eggplant with tahini and lemon, this is probably one of my other favorite Mediterranean dips and Savann’s version was great, but could have used a little more salt. What can I say? I have a salt tooth…
Whenever I have Turkish food, I usually have lamb. Why? Because it’s usually awesome. And because I’m Greek so it’s in my blood. Alexis got the chicken kebab platter, and I had the lamb adana (ground lamb spiced with peppers and paprika). It was nothing fancy in the slightest – just meat, rice, and salad. When the food is made with a little TLC and a lot of good seasoning, what else do you need? I thought it was great.
I can see the lack of pomp and circumstance being a downside to some people, but if you want a good meal, I definitely recommend it. I wouldn’t say I was blown away by it because there was nothing “different” that stood out and let’s face it, as New Yorkers, we look for different because we’re bored with everything. Jaded palates need the thrill of the frill every now and then, but there’s nothing wrong with a meal that tastes like it came from your grandma’s kitchen.
414 Amsterdam Avenue @ 80th Street