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Zatis - mediocre Turkish on Piedmont (but Tango Gelato saves the night)

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Heh. I was kind of hoping the nausea/headache inducing color scheme, and disorienting layout would decrease the frequency of "Coming to San Fran! What should I eat?" posts, but it didn't seem to leave a dent.

Anyway, that's the kind of overly optimistic thinking that led me to this restaurant in the first place. The first time I passed it, took a look at the menu, and saw lahmacun listed, buried in a list of confused pan-everything dishes (dungeness crab cakes with honey, sesame, and walnuts; flank steak with chipotle pepper vinagrette; smoked salmon ravioli; blackened snapper; seafood crepe, etc etc), and was immediately intrigued.

I don’t know what I was hoping for… yes, I do. I was hoping that I could ferret out some good, solid Turkish food from the dual menu, kind of like how you can sometimes get really great random regional Chinese food in the most Americanized-appearing Chinese restaurants. Anyway, it didn’t work out that way. At best, we got some okay diner food. At worst, we got kofte that tasted like apple pie.

First of all, there was no lahmacun (pizza-like flatbread with seasoned ground lamb or beef) on the menu. When I cross-referenced Yelp prior to going, I saw some complaints that the lahmacun was extraordinarily slow to come out. Maybe that's why they took it off.

We had:
Cigara borek (phyllo rolls stuffed with feta, fried) – tasty in a fried mozzarella stick kind of way. Greasy.
Zucchini patties – also fairly tasty
Eggplant puree – flavor was ok. I prefer my purees pureed, though – there were too many chunks of vegetable for my taste.. This was served with whole wheat pita chips, and cold greasy fried triangles of phyllo.

Mixed kebab – lamb was underseasoned, kofte (ground meat kebobs) had way too much cinnamon. I'm not exaggerating when I say it tasted like apple pie.
Moussaka – satisfying in a diner-ish way. The bechamel wasn't integrated - it sat in a layer on top came and came off in one piece,
Manti (spiced beef dumplings in with yogurt sauce) – overcooked. The tomato-based sauce was watery. The filling was ok but the watery sauce diluted its flavor, The yogurt and chili sauce saved this dish

Dessert – Revani - a semolina + cornmeal cake with orange syrup and pistachio cream. This was quite good.

So, overall, a major disappointment

On the other hand, I had very good gelato at Tango Gelato afterwards (business was hopping despite the frigid weather) - I chose dulce de leche and rose, which turned out to be a felicitous combination, even better together than separate.

Zatis
4029 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

Tango Gelato
4184 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

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  1. How did I miss a Piedmont Ave. location of Tango Gelato?!?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      it's been open only for about 6-8 weeks, directly across from the movie theatre; maybe it will convert some of Fenton's fans. cheers