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Taksim - East Village (short review)

In brief, it was fantastic. Even better than the midtown location, since they've opted for candles in lieu of glaring cafeteria light. The medium-rare lamb shish kebab was fantastic (tender, flavorful), the mezes were great (they have some of my favorite taramosalata in the city), and the waiters could not have been more helpful with our BYOB ensemble of a six-pack of beer, a bottle of wine, and a bottle of port. I was less enamored of the borek (too greasy for my tastes, though others may disagree) and the lentil balls (too starchy). It seems they intend to stay BYOB, without a corkage fee, even after they get their liquor license. Hooray!

This older review encouraged us to go:

It was bizarrely empty, though I guess it was a Wednesday night. I would recommend going now before the hordes descend.

Location: 2nd Avenue below 6th Street

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  1. Interesting. I used to like the midtown banch, so I was pleased to see them open in the EV. However, we ordered in from them on Friday and were really disappointed. The Greek salad was fine, but the hummus was very bland and flat tasting and the lentil balls were dreadful. We threw most of the meal out. Maybe we had an off night, or the meats are better?

    1. Agreed on the lentil balls, as per above. Something about the green wrap made me think the lentil ball would taste better as a small dollop with some pork and miso sauce in a Korean ssam. Heh.

      We didn't have the Greek salad or the hummus last night, but I do remember not being fond of either at the midtown location. Perhaps this is a place where one needs to order somewhat carefully. I've never been disappointed by the lamb at the midtown branch. I don't know if others have had different experiences; if you do try again, I might suggest that you order the meat platters (and the tarama, if that's something you like).

      2 Replies
      1. re: carbonara

        The lentil balls were probably the nastiest things I had for dinner last Friday, but the other mezes were fine, so was the kebabs. The not too sweet rice pudding was very tasty though.
        My friend and I almost didn't go in because the restaurant was absolutely empty at 6.30 and just a little more filled by 9 when we left. that must be painful for the rent payers

        1. re: xigua

          Odd, I think the lentil balls are incredibly tasty and one of the best things at Taksim.

          Service can be excessively intrusive, though well-intentioned (interrupting a conversation between me and my date, with apologies, to ask how everything is, both for mezes and mains).

      2. The hummus was also thin and bland on my visit (though one of my dining companions really liked it). We ordered the lentil balls, the meat platter for two, and the lamb stew. I don't know if I just am not crazy for Turkish or what, but I've never thought the food was anything to write home about. The meats were good, but I would have liked more spicing. In fact, the most flavorful part of the meal was the free Turkish Delights that they served with the check.

        2 Replies
        1. re: janethepain

          Hmm. Sorry to hear you didn't like the meat. De gustibus non est disputandum? I, alas, have not yet been to Turkey, but two of my food-loving dinner companions last night had spent time there, and they both loved the place. I'll be back within the next week or two, I'm sure. The combination of BYOB, delicious, well-priced, and somewhat atmospheric is too rare for me to pass up.

          1. re: carbonara

            It's not like I didn't like it, but maybe I was expecting more "bursting" flavors? That's why I'm not holding Taksim 'responsible' per se, but maybe I just don't have a particular affinity for Turkish Cuisine (for what it's worth, nothing jumped out at me at Turkish Kitchen either). But yeah, that BYOB policy, friendly prices, and uncrowded environs make for a great place to meet up with friends. I mean, I would go again.

        2. I was at one of three tables in the EV Taksim at 5:30pm on a Sunday. Inexplicably terrible service. Very polite, but very imcompetent.

          Tasty mixed grill meat platter special, though.

          1. This is one of my favorite inexpensive places in the city, and I'm baffled that the new East Village location seems to be struggling (every time I walk by it's empty). I do, however, agree with the anti-lentil ball contingent; that's the one item on the menu I would avoid. By the way, the artichokes are fantastic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Benjamin68

              I'm not baffled that it's taking time to get a clientele. From what I've noticed, they do get a lot of takeout orders, but otherwise, I think of Madras Cafe, which almost went out of business in its first year and gradually became solvent, as word of mouth and posts by people like me and clients taking their friends eventually were followed by more formal reviews. I do believe that Taksim will be successful in this neighborhood.

            2. i tried it last night and was underwhelmed...

              On the positive side, i like that it's BYOB and it's fairly cheap...

              But none of the dishes we ordered was much better than average...we had four appetizers: 1) a yogurt w/ baked carrots special...sort of a carrot-version of cacik...maybe i was just missing the usual garlic&cucumber of the cacik but i found it bland, 2) zucchini and eggplant w/ garlic recommended by the waiter...again bland: not much garlic in it, not much zucchini either, just a lot of seedy eggplant...3) leek salad...this was the best of the bunch...nice tender oily leeks...4) stuffed cabbage leaves...this was the worst of the bunch, with a dry and mealy filling...we mentioned it to the waiter, who sort of shrugged...

              We split the lamb shank wrapped in eggplant entree...this was ok, although it was served at close to room temperature...as reported here, it's a decent amount of lamb for 14 dollars...but like all the dishes, we found it pretty dull...

              i've eaten a lot of Turkish food, as my best friend is Turkish and i've dined with him at his home and at Turkish restaurants many times...i'd say the food at Taksim really didn't the do cuisine justice at all...

              Overall: a lackluster meal, which wasn't helped by the fact that there were only two other people dining in the cavernous space...am unlikely to return...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Simon

                What Turkish restaurants in Manhattan do you like?

                1. re: Pan

                  i haven't had any Turkish food in Manhattan that i've been really excited about...i've found Turkuaz on the UWS to be pretty good (i order from there when i housesit for friends on CPW)...i didn't like Turkish Kitchen as much as a lot of people on this board do (food was ok, but didn't care for vibe and service)...i should prob get takeout from Bereket sometime as i've walked by it a million times but never gone in...and there's a place in Queens called Hemsin that i liked, but not enough to make it a destination restaurant...

                  the places i've been to w/ my Turkish friend were mostly in NJ, plus one excellent one in Long Island but i have no idea what it was called...but the best stuff was food his mother cooked...

                  sidenote: lately when i'm craving somewhat similar food i've been hitting Mamoun's Falafel on St.Marks for hummos, grapeleaves, and lamb shawarma...

              2. Is the crazy owner hanging at this new location these days?

                2 Replies
                1. re: julesj66

                  i didn't see any owner...just a waiter and a busboy and a lot of empty space...

                  1. re: Simon

                    oops, wait, I think I was thinking of the owner of Sip Sak; sorry!

                2. i tried taksim for the first time last night. lamb kebab sandwich to go.

                  the service was great, everybody was super friendly. but the food?
                  it wasn't great.

                  big chunks of lamb, done nicely medium rare. but not a lot of taste. and the sandwich didn't really have anything else in it besides a bit of cabbage and some red peppers. all in a wrap. all said, it was pretty bland.