I was meeting my friend Chef Bunnii Buglione to do some long-overdue Tanger Outlet Riverhead power shopping last Monday night.
Where to dine? What’s open? What’s fast? What’s GOOD?
At Bunnii’s suggestion, we settled on Turkuaz Grill, near Riverhead’s aquarium. She’s a North Forker and a regular at Turkuaz. I hadn’t been there in a couple of years, but I had very fond memories of the food and the friendly service.
Good Turkish food is largely Mediterranean cuisine, meticulously spiced. Turkuaz continues to deliver on that tradition. And now the interior is all fancified and cozied and there are lots of outdoor tables. We started with cups of soup—chicken soup for Bunnii, mercimek (red lentil) for moi. How do they get so much flavor into a thin soup of ground-up lentils? I wouldn’t just cross the canal for this golden elixir—I’d swim across a roiling moat! Bunnii liked her soup too—it’s her favorite. And the pita bread isn’t the least bit dry or tough. Oh no, it’s the warm, elastic Platonic ideal of pita. Such a shame that I had to eat Bunnii’s share of the stuff.
An experienced and gluten-sensitive Turkuaz diner, Bunnii ordered the Tavuk sis (chicken shish kebab) with rice instead of bulgur wheat. You can’t go wrong with marinated chunks of chicken grilled on skewers. We managed to save a sample to take home to my husband.
I got the falafel entrée. Very filling, very delicious. There is nothing that I don’t like here—perfectly shaped and deep-fried pillows of ground chickpea, hummus, tahini, bulgur wheat, pancar salatasi (yogurty beet salad), a savory bit of onion salad and a tossed salad all on one big plate!
In a bout of benevolence, when we ordered our dinners, I also ordered a special of the night to take home to my husband—an eggplant moussaka. I was pleased that Turkuaz packages their takeout in aluminum containers—so that it can go right into the oven at home. No nasty styrofoam. Later that night, almost as soon as that cheese was melted over that lamb and eggplant, it was gone.
Though Bunnii and I passed on the Turkish beer and wine during this visit, we were still too stuffed for dessert, so I averted my eyes from the pastries below the counter as I paid the bill. When was the last time you got a fabulous dinner for three for under $50 on the East End? I did that last Monday in Riverhead.
Turkuaz Grill is located at 40 McDermott Avenue in Riverhead. Call the restaurant at 631-591-1757 or visit turkuazgrillriverhead.com.