Dervish, NYC

March 8, 2010

We enjoyed the cuisine so much in Istanbul last May we thought we should try a Turkish restaurant in NYC. The opportunity came on February 25, 2010, as Dervish is near the theater for the excellent current production of A View from the Bridge.

I arrived first and ordered a glass of 2003 Kavaklidere Selection, Turkish white wine. The Turkish red wines seemed to be priced a bit high and so I also ordered a bottle of 2006 Laetitia, Estate, Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir.  After Linda and Frances arrived, we were served some excellent bread with olives and olive oil.

We ordered from the three-course Pre-Theater Dinner Menu at only $21.75.

Frances started with
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Served with Dervish House Remoulade

These were nicely done with plenty of fresh, light crab and a crisp outside.

Linda and I had the
Mihrap Borek
Stuffed Phyllo with Mediterranean Feta Cheese & Spinach with Aromatic Herbs
The filling had a lovely aromatic flavor and light texture that had been preserved by the wrapping, which also provided a textural contrast.

Frances’ main course was
Iskender Kebab (Ottoman Style)
Vertically grilled very thin slices of lamb, Over Diced Pita Bread, Dressed with Tomato Sauce and Homemade Garlic Yogurt Sauce

She enjoyed this.

Linda had the
Traditional Doner
Vertically grilled very thin slices of lamb with Vegetable Rice Pilaf and Seasonal Vegetables

Unlike the Iskender Kebab, the charred crispness of the lamb was accentuated by serving it without sauce alongside fairly dry rice pilaf and vegetables. Very nice.

My main course was the
Ottoman Style Mastic ‘Hunkar Begendi’
Tender Lamb Cubes, Eggplant Purée and Roasted Tomato Sauce

Hunkar Begendi
had been one of our favorite dishes in Istanbul, but this one disappointed me. The eggplant purée is held together by mastic resin, which is authentically Turkish, but not authentic for this dish which should use less gooey béchamel sauce. (The royal Ottoman chefs used to invite chefs from the Bourbon and Napoleonic courts.) The lamb should be charred and crisp, not softened with tomato sauce. The other vegetables are extraneous.

Frances’ dessert was a special, profiteroles with chocolate.


My dessert was
Traditional Warm Almond ‘Irmik Helva’
with Pistachio, Cinnamin, Milk Rose Water

This had nice Turkish flavors. The coffee was espresso as I wanted something to wake me up for the theater.

We enjoyed the meal and would go back when in the east end of the Theater District. There may be better Turkish cuisine in New York, but I don’t know it.

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