Istanbul Grill Offers Flavorful Favorites - Review by ORLANDO SENTINEL
Istanbul Grill isn’t much to look at tucked away in a shopping center off of Orange Blossom Trail — until the dishes start coming out of the kitchen. Turkish and Mediterranean favorites such as hummus, kebabs, pide and more are expertly cooked at this restaurant in south Orlando.
What I would try a second time
Istanbul Grill ensures that each dunk of pide ($1.99), a Turkish flatbread, into the restaurant’s hummus ($5.95) was unique. The chickpea dip was well-seasoned, and had a pool of olive oil and a dusting of paprika in its center.
What I didn’t like
It’s a minor complaint, but not one I take lightly with Turkish fare. I love the pickled vegetable salad that typically accompany kebabs and other grill entrees — the shredded cabbage and/or carrots are a refreshing bite that pairs nicely with the spice-filled meats and basmati rice.
Istanbul Grill’s beef adana, a house special ($16.95), included shredded purple cabbage that had an almost chemical taste to it. We ignored it for the grilled ground beef seasoned with mint, onions, cumin, cilantro and green chili.
What I would put on Instagram
Our spread of appetizers has appeared on my Instagram account, @Orlando.Foodie, already. Besides the hummus and pide mentioned already, we tried Istanbul Grill’s falafel ($7.95). The crispy fried discs were flavorful thanks to minced celery, parsley and green onions — and an accompanying tahini dip.
The eggplant in the restaurant’s mossaka ($11.99) was baked low and slow to fork tenderness in a tomato-based sauce along with ground beef. The layered dish was crowned with perfectly melted mozzarella and tomato slices.
How I was treated
Our server was unobtrusive but still ensured our meal and experience was pleasant and comfortable.
My next visit
Lamb kofta ($18.95) is always a favorite. Garlic and other seasonings flavor these minced lamb patties before they’re grilled. At Istanbul Grill, the lamb kofta is served with Basmati rice and a house salad.
No alcohol is served at Istanbul Grill, but you can sip on Turkish coffee, tea, and a drink called Salgam made from fermented purple carrots and Turkish turnips. Ayran, a yogurt drink, is also available.
For those with special diets
Istanbul Grill’s entrees contain meat, but a meal could be made from a combination of meat-free appetizers (this style of small plates dining is called “meze” in the Mediterranean and Middle East). Think the starters mentioned earlier in this article, as well as smoked eggplant dip baba ganoush, tabouli, and a spicy salad made from minced tomatoes, onions and other vegetables.