UPDATE: I am heartbroken to report that Beyti Mediterranean Grill closed down in February 2022.
I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, and my absolute favorite among those might be Turkish food. Two of my favorite restaurants in Orlando are Turkish, and I’ve written glowing reviews of both of them here on The Saboscrivner blog: Bosphorous and Cappadocia. But when I found out a Turkish restaurant was opening near where we live in Casselberry, my wife and I were excited, overwhelmed with hope it would be awesome. Well, Beyti Mediterranean Grill (https://www.beytifl.com/) opened its doors this week, in the old location of Rolando’s Cuban Cuisine on Semoran Boulevard, just north of the busy Red Bug Lake Road intersection. The restaurant is located right beyond where the overpass lets out, so it is easy to get to if you’re driving north on Semoran, but you’ll need to make a u-turn at the light if you’re heading south. They don’t have a sign up yet, so be on the lookout.
The owners used to own Turkish Bar and Grill in Altamonte Springs, but I’m sad to say we never discovered that restaurant, and it closed in February 2019. Well, they’re back in business at Beyti, and I am so happy to report that it is awesome. Even better than we expected, in fact, and our expectations were high. As usual, on a Friday night after a busy week, I ordered a lot of food, but the two of us will end up with multiple meals from this massive menu.
Turkish appetizers often include a lot of rich, savory dips, and my favorite is sauteed eggplant ($4.99), sometimes known as soslu patlican. In this dish, the eggplant is cooked with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic, and it is probably my favorite thing you can do with an eggplant. I’ve had and enjoyed the Bosphorous and Cappadocia versions, and this was as good or better than both. It was definitely a larger portion for a smaller price.
My wife requested babaganoush ($4.99), which is a creamy and smoky eggplant dip, blended with tahini, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic. We both like babaganoush a lot, and this was a real winner — not too chunky, but not blended so smooth that it loses any texture. The smoky flavor came through very well. We were in babaganoush bliss.
Even though the dips both came with soft pita wedges, we couldn’t resist ordering the lavash bread ($3.99) to tear apart and dip into the dips. It usually comes to your table inflated to the size of a football, but this one deflated in the ten minutes it took me to drive this bounty home. Still, the bread was warm, soft, and fluffy, if no longer puffy. I give it props over Bosphorous and Cappadocia for being dusted with regular and black sesame seeds, a very nice touch.
This is lahmacun, which is a soft, thin Turkish flatbread topped with seasoned ground beef in a rich tomatoey sauce. The order ($9.99) came with three of these, and they are one of my favorite Turkish dishes anywhere. I only ate one tonight, so these are my most eagerly awaited leftovers. It is even thinner than a typical pita bread, maybe about as thin as a thin crust pizza, but very soft — not like the crispy, crackery crust of most thin crust pizzas, and even softer than the pita and lavash breads.
This is a gyro plate with double the meat ($13.99). The garlicky gyro meat, a mixture of seasoned lamb and beef, was fantastic — so savory and not greasy at all, like so many gyros from so many other places. This was my wife’s choice, and clearly she has good taste. But this way I got to have some too, without feeling guilty for tasting too much of her food. What you can’t see in this photo is that the gyro meat completely covers a large portion of fluffy, buttery rice pilaf, with the meat juices dripping down and seasoning the rice even further. Note the crispy, vinegary pickled cabbage, lettuce and tomato in a very light vinaigrette, half a charred jalapeno pepper, and four more soft pita wedges.
I was very curious about the restaurant’s namesake dish, the Beyti ($10.99). The menu describes it as chopped lamb, garlic, hot peppers, and parsley, wrapped in pita bread and topped with tomato and yogurt sauces. It reminded us of a Turkish enchilada with the yogurt sauce filling in for a crema or sour cream on top, and the thin pita wrap reminiscent of a tortilla. The luscious lamb inside was formed and shaped into a long, dense meatloaf, so after being sliced, it was like there was a thick lamb meatball inside every segment. I was happy to see more cabbage and another hot pepper with this dish, as well as marinated red onions.
We ended up with even more vegetable accompaniments, enough to keep me in salads for a few more days!
The owner included two of their stuffed grape leaves, which he assured me were made fresh by hand, not served straight out of a can. I’ve had canned dolmades, and I have to admit that I love them, but there’s nothing like the real deal. They were served chilled, with seasoned rice inside, but no meat for you vegetarians to worry about. I was torn about ordering these, because I’m such a fan of stuffed grape leaves, but I had already ordered so much food. As a result, this was a really special surprise touch, and he assured I’ll order the grape leaves every time I return.
Finally, here’s a photo of an additional large container of the great buttery rice pilaf (I’m not even sure what that came with), along with an order of the most delicious pistachio baklava that the owner was also kind enough to include for free. It was such a generous gesture, and one we’ll never forget. I love baklava, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this is some of the best baklava I’ve ever had. It was still warm, extremely fresh, chewy (some baklava is flaky and dry), and perfect in every way.
I just want to say that I brought this delicious food home the evening before our anniversary. In this pandemic year, we haven’t gone out to eat at a restaurant together since the first days of March, and don’t intend to resume that old habit anytime soon. So all of my restaurant reviews since March have been of takeout food. I already warned my wife that this isn’t going to feel like a festive anniversary, but she’s perfectly content eating at home. Tonight’s dinner felt extra special, being home together, still thankfully safe and healthy, and eating one of the tastiest meals we’ve shared in a while from a wonderful new restaurant right in our neighborhood. While we enjoyed our first of several Turkish feasts over the next few days, for a little while it felt like nothing was wrong in the country or the world. We had each other (eleven years married!), and we had Beyti Mediterranean Grill, a welcome new addition to the Casselberry culinary scene, one that is well worth the drive from anywhere in the greater Orlando area, easily as good or better than our other established Turkish restaurants, and considerably cheaper. We wish them all the best and look forward to becoming regulars in the months and years to come. Seriously, stalwart Saboscrivnerinos — RUN, don’t walk to this one.