On Sunday evening, I met a friend at Bosphorous, the beautiful Turkish restaurant on Park Avenue in Winter Park. (https://www.bosphorousrestaurant.com/) It is one of my favorite restaurants in Orlando, and it never disappoints. This time was no exception.
My friend had never been there before; I suggested it because she is vegetarian, and other vegetarian friends I’ve brought there thought they died and went to heaven, with all the delicious options to choose from.
We shared the mixed appetizer platter with puffy lavas bread, which is almost a requirement when you eat there. The soft, pita-like bread will arrive at your table puffed up with hot air, and you need to pierce it with fork tines to deflate it to avoid being burned. Then rip off pieces and go to town with the cool, refreshing dips in the platter.
I have said that everything tastes better in sandwich or dip form, and these dips are among the finest around. The platter also comes with one of Bosphorous’ stuffed grape leaves, sliced in two, and a few kalamata olives and cornichons (tiny pickles, which I love, even though I’m normally not big on pickles). You have to order the lavas bread separately, but you’ll regret it if you don’t!
One of my favorites is the savory tomato and sauteed eggplant dip called soslu patlican. I could eat a whole jar of that stuff in no time. I should really learn how to make it myself! The platter also includes babaganoush (smoked eggplant dip), tabbuli (similar to couscous), ezme (a spicy salsa-like dip with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and other peppers, and walnuts), and haydari (a thick, creamy yogurt dip with walnuts).
My absolute favorite, which my wife loves too, is taramosalata, which is a creamy, salty, fish roe concoction. Unfortunately, it wasn’t included this time, replaced with a thin, creamy dip called cacik, with yogurt, cucumber, mint, and dill. (My brilliant brother, one of my most loyal readers, suggested cacik might be etymologically related to the similar Greek yogurt sauce tzatziki, and he’s probably right!) I guess without the taramosalata, the whole platter is vegetarian, so that makes some sense. It doesn’t even seem to be on the menu anymore!
If you don’t want to spring for the whole platter, you can always order any of these dips separately, but for first-time diners, I strongly recommend trying them all, so you can pick out the ones you like best. My least-favorite is the hummus, because it’s just plain hummus, which I eat all the time. I wonder if they let you mix and match. It never occurred to me to ask!
While my wife and I usually share the mixed appetizer platter and an order of doner kebap (similar to gyro meat, and served on a bed of rich and buttery rice pilaf, perfect for wrapping up in the lavas bread), this time I tried something new to me: the lahmacun, which is like Turkish pizza — flatbreads that were at once both crispy and soft, covered with ground lamb in a piquant sauce. It comes accompanied by shredded, pickled red cabbage, beets, and red onions (love it!), plus some mixed greens and sliced tomatoes. You put the vegetables on the lahmacun half-moons, pour on a little of the incredible vinaigrette dressing, fold it, and eat it like a sandwich. I loved it.
My friend ordered the spinach and feta pide, a pastry “boat” that was warm and soft, stuffed with sauteed spinach and melty, cheesy goodness, topped with sliced tomatoes. She was suitably impressed.
Unfortunately, my wife was down for the count with a migraine to end all migraines, which is the only reason she didn’t join us for dinner. But I ordered another mixed appetizer platter and a whole lavas bread to bring home to her, which she appreciated. (Except they forgot the stuffed grape leaves on this one — First World Problems Alert!) This is one of the ways you make a marriage work, you guys.