Dining Out: A touch of Turkey at Taksim Square 2

December 23, 2013 Heather Chin
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BY HEATHER J. CHIN & HELEN KLEIN

Taksim Square is a popular destination for tourists and residents of Istanbul, Turkey alike, a central hub where people from across the country and world can experience and share experiences.

Similarly, the cozy family-owned and operated restaurant known as Taksim Square 2, at the corner of 26th Street and Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, has become a go-to place for authentic, delicious Turkish and Mesopotamian-style food, particularly from the southeastern region where its owner, Ekrem Oz grew up.

Oz’s menu features a wide range of lamb, beef, chicken and salmon kebab platters, as well a as selection of freshly made and refreshing salads, soups and side dishes. Everything, except the French fries, is homemade and it shows in the taste.

Start your meal with a colorful Meze Platter ($8.50) of cold sides and salads: tabuli, ezme, babaganoush, hummus and stuffed grape leaves ($4.50 each a la carte). The creamy, nutty-flavored and unassuming hummus has the perfect touch of lemon juice mixed with the mashed chickpeas, which are not at all grainy like some store-bought varieties. The babaganoush—char-grilled eggplant dip with tahini—looks visually similar to the hummus, but is lightly chunky and has a residual smokiness from the char-grilling that tempts you to make a meal out of it alone.

Ezme is a slightly spicy dip of chopped vegetables that somehow manages to burst with freshness while also packing a bit of a punch, contrasting artfully with the gorgeously green Tabuli, which is crunchy, with an herbal tang.

Add an order of the Eggplant in Tomato Sauce, whose sweetness is enhanced by the addition of red peppers ($4.50) and some warm homemade Turkish bread dotted with sesame seeds ($0.50 each) which comes to the table piping hot, and adds the perfect grace note to both appetizers and main dishes, and you could easily walk away full after just these dishes.

A Mix Grill platter of lamb and chicken shish, adana, doner and chop ($12.95) is full of tender meat that comes sliced, chunked, and in small patties. The lamb—a classic Mediterranean meat option—is particularly juicy as shish kebab chunks. The chicken – artfully grilled — was tender, succulent and supremely satisfying. It all pairs well with the chickpea-studded rice pilaf and Shepherd Salad ($4.50 a la carte), which comes with a light dressing.

Don’t forget to top it all off with one of Taksim Square 2’s desserts: homemade Baklava ($3.50) and Sutlac baked rice pudding ($3.50). The sutlac is comforting and fights off the winter chill, but the classic baklava layers chopped walnuts and pistachios together with honey between thin sheets of filo dough for a sweet and remarkably un-messy treat.

Make no mistake: the food is the star at Taksim Square 2. That is because, as Oz notes, “food is very important in [Turkish] family life.

“Everything is fresh. We don’t just cut the meat, we clean the meat, too. No fat, no veins. We take care of the food,” explained Oz, who worked in ironworks for years before opening his restaurants. “When I [worked in the neighborhood and] wanted to eat something, there was nowhere fresh. So I thought, let me open a restaurant. I understand food.”

Open for nine months, Taksim Square 2 also has an older sibling on East 55th Street in the Upper East Side and a soon-to-open younger sibling slated to open its doors at 36th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park early in 2014. The new location will feature “beautiful coffee” and Turkish breakfasts, as well as American breakfasts and more Turkish home cooking.

 

TAKSIM SQUARE 2

776 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232

718-788-1064

Open daily.

Lunch specials daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Delivery by phone or online, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m..


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