Gulluoglu on Coney Island Avenue
Been meaning to get to Gulluoglu ( http://www.gulluoglubaklava.com ) but it's a bit out of my way. I've actually been to a location in Istanbul, but it was quite a while ago so I know I won't be able to compare. Can anyone vouch for the authenticity? Or authenticity aside, any strong feelings good or bad to share?
As part of my visit to NY this week, I thought I'd venture out to Gulluoglu since I have no plans to visit Istanbul anytime soon. A friend just got back from there and very much enjoyed my recommendation of Gulluoglu.
I'm glad I went, but I thought the baklava just had too much of a gamey flavor (from the sheep's milk, I believe). I really enjoy funky, barnyardy flavors in cheese, but I guess it just doesn't do it for me in sweets. Along with the 1 lb. assortment of baklava, I got a serving of the su boregi, which I thought was good, but not worth a detour.
First: didn't realize there were other threads on Gulluoglu, which is why I started this one. I must have misspelled the word when I originally did a search.
On to the pastries: my wife and I tried a sample of different sweets, and she, having a much better memory for matters of the palate than I, noticed an element that matched her experience in Istanbul (one that I would never have remembered) -- a distinctive farminess. We figured it must be something about the butter from Turkey; not sure what else it could be. I thought it somehow affected the flavor of the pistachio in a bad way, but worked best, I thought, in the walnut baklava (not the same as the round walnut one described earlier, which also has some pistachio), by far my favorite. None of the pastries were too sweet, which I think is actually a good thing, though it might not appeal as much to a more Americanized palate.
I recommend sampling the pastries along with a small portion of kaymak (cream). It has a consistency almost like butter with the flavor of cream, though it's not farmy at all like the pastries (I'm not exactly sure why the pastries are farmy while an unmistakably purely dairy product is not.) It's actually found inside a couple of the different pastries, but it's just as good tried in conjunction with other pastries, with a sip of coffee (or tea, I'd imagine), or even on its own. I had an excellent Turkish coffee; my wife, a Turkish tea, which she enjoyed except for the fact that it was served in a regular tea cup and not the traditional style cup (made from glass with no handle; held, instead, by the flowering brim) we found without exception in cafes in Istanbul, a set of which we actually ended up bringing home from our trip.
On the staff: we were helped by a young woman who was extremely friendly (she gave us a taste of the kaymak before we ordered, and also unflinchingly agreed to our request for a sample plate of different pastries, though no such item appeared on the menu). Her English was far from perfect, but I don't think that affected the quality of service at all.
Stayed exclusively on the sweet side for this trip. Definitely looking forward to a return visit for savory items, particularly the su boregi, about which everyone here seems to be of similar praiseworthy mind.
Interesting. I went there recently on a recommendation from this board — we did go to Taci's Beyti beforehand and I've nothing but raves for the place — but had an unfortunate experience at Gulluoglu. We got sweets to take home, and the counterstaff used the spatula from the savory meat pastries on our sweet stuff. We didn't notice, obviously, until we got home, and the effect — baklava with essence of bacon — was totally disgusting. Sloppy of them, I thought, and they weren't particularly nice or friendly, either.
Um, I dont think there will be bacon in Turkish pastries but I get what you are saying about the spatula... I didnt find them all that friendly, my impression was that they did not deal with many gringos (or at least Americans) there. Maybe folks who have been in Turkey and can throw in a few words could smooth things a bit. When I visited, late on a Sat afternoon, it was empty except for me and I was a bit concerned that they might not make it.
re: jen kalb
When we visited, the young woman behind the counter was very friendly, and took the time to explain what the various selections were and to answer any other questions we had. Her English was on the awkward side - which I have found, at times, to result in a certain shyness that can be mistaken as coldness (and I speak no Turkish) - but she was helpful and courteous.
The coffee and baklava are quite tasty, IMO, though I unfortunately can't weigh in on how it stacks up against the Istanbul experience. The biggest treat is probably the staff there, who are very earnest and friendly and ceremonious with the coffee service. Worth running the gauntlet of bahnias & body shops to get there: You could even make it a full blown excursion and first hit Taci's Beyti or DiFara or Sahara?
The baklava varieties are very good, and NOT soaked in syrup, which I prefer. But the highlight of Gulluoglu, IMO, is their Su Boregi selection - the Turkish take on bureks (and being from the Bronx, I'm a big fan of Tony & Tina's Albanian-style bureks). The cheese version in particular is like an ethereal savory noodle pudding, except that it's made with thick layers of phyllo. If that sounds appealing to you, it's well worth a detour.
Well, the stuff is flown in from Istanbul for baking so it is authentic - some of the sweets are very, very good - there is a little round walnut one they display in the front case/corner that is particularly good, and several with cream that you wont find anywhere else around. Others werent world-changing.
There are also a few savory or bread based items, some are very good, others we didnt like so much
I think there is a free coffee if you buy, but nobody offered it to me!
please go and report back!