Seems like there are as many Turkish and Mediterranean restaurants in Montclair as there are Italian ones. I’m exaggerating, but there appears to be a lot of menus offering baba gannouj these days. There’s Lalezar, Four Seasons Kebab House, Mediterranea, Falafel Hut, Flatbread Grill, and Sofra.
I’m a big fan of tahini, lamb, feta and I happen to be addicted to Turkish Bread (Pide). So I thought I should try all of these Turkish and/or Mediterranean places, in an effort to find the best.
I began on a Friday afternoon at Sofra, 151 Valley Rd. Sofra offers a lunch menu that includes the choice of soup, salad, or appetizer, and entrée and beverage for $10.95. When I arrived, there were no other customers. As a result – the service was remarkable! They didn’t miss a beat, thorough and attentive.
The décor, well, the best I could say is that it’s just peachy. Really, incredibly, and completely peachy.
On to the food! The meal began with a warm basket of Turkish bread – a sure way to my heart. Then a small bowl of oil-cured olives arrived. My happiness was increasing, but instead of accompanying the bread and olives with olive oil, it was accompanied by foil wrapped packages of butter. That’s never a good sign, unless I’m at a diner, and even then, I prefer the little white ramekin with whipped butter. I wondered about that, but shrugged it off.
When time came to order, my husband (Mr. Hot), ordered a Shepherd salad (Coban salalta). It was huge, with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, peppers, onions, with olive oil and lemon juice, and topped with feta. I sampled some. It was delicious; fresh, crisp, and vibrant, possibly my favorite of the meal.
For my appetizer, I ordered the baba gannouj (babagannus), which was presented beautifully, and in plentitude. It was creamy, with deep roasted notes - very good.
In addition, I also ordered the flaky cigar pastries (sigara boregi), which were warm, crisp, delicate, and filled with feta and parsley. Texturally it was great, but overall it was a bit bland on the palate.
For our entrees, Mr. Hot ordered the skewered ground lamb (Adana Kebab). I sampled it and unfortunately, this was not among my favorite things. Though the dish was nicely presented and generous in portion, I found the meat to be overly gamey and hard.
For my entrée, I ordered chicken shish kebab (tavuk sis kebap). Although not the most tender, the chicken was well seasoned and presented nicely (although I was hoping for the meat to arrive on a stick).
Now, on to dessert! The first thing I must say is, if you go for lunch, do not spring for the Turkish coffee upgrade. We did, and were sorely disappointed. I brew my own doppio every morning and drink it black. I like strong coffee. Here, although it is not uncommon with Turkish coffee, I was not pleased to find more than a heaping tablespoon of fine Turkish grinds at the bottom of my demitasse.
We ordered a dessert known as chocolate milk (or mousse) pudding. It was “pannacotta-ish,” topped with ground pistachios, and covered with various flavored syrups. It was okay.
Then, we were sent, courtesy of the kitchen, their signature dessert made from an old family recipe, Pistachio Milk Pudding. I love pistachio, so I was pumped. However, any delicate flavor that may have been in that pistachio pudding was completely drowned out a complete deluge of various flavored syrups. I’m sure that was not part of the old family recipe! For more pics, visit the Gallery!
151 Valley Road
Montclair, NJ 07042