Bosphorus "meh" vote / cautionary tale
We took the recent Groupon to Bosphorus in Inman Square on Saturday night.
First of all, our 7:45 reservation turned into being seated at 8. It was a Saturday night and they were busy, so that didn't bother me, but unfortunately after we were seated the slowness increased. It was about 9:15 before we saw the mains, and the meze platter we ordered (all cold dishes that surely are just spooned out) didn't come until about 8:45; people near us who had not been seated until about ten minutes later had their appetizers well before we did. So, I wouldn't recommend going when they are busy, if at all.
The meze platter was an everyday mixture of houmous (pretty good), bland tsatziki, whipped eggplant, etc. Nothing to write home about but we were hungry at this point and finished it all.
I ordered the Iskender Kebab -- which nominally is a doner kebab and fries, if you read the online menu, which promises pita bread, french fries and sauteed vegetables. In practice this was a small portion of lukewarm shaved kebab loaf, on top of wet, spongy non-pita white bread croutons, no fries, with steamed carrots and broccoli! Oh, and a bland grilled green chile pepper. To be fair I don't think the in-house menu mentioned fries, but still, at $19 this was a big let-down both in terms of quality and quantity.
The missus had the "Adona" kebab which was a kofte kind of affair, with rice and vegetables -- a little better than the Iskender setup but not that much (maybe it seemed better because it wasn't cold) and again, at $17, quite a disappointment.
We didn't fancy being there past midnight for the desserts to arrive, so have nothing to report on that front.
Why would they do a Groupon so soon after opening? Seems like a recipe for overwhelming your staff.
We have been big fans of BFR for years- my husband's fave is the adona kebab platter with yogurt sauce, and the kids love the lentil soup. All the apps are good, particularly the hummus, which is always very fresh, the sigaru boregi (fried little sticks of phyllo with feta in the middle), the feta and olive side dish. I've worked my way around the menu and have liked everything. Service can be spotty and slow but the prices are low and the place is always welcoming.
Went to Bosphorus for the first time on Saturday night - no problems getting a seat at 7, but it really filled up by 8. Really like the room - the funky canopies over the booths - the booth seating that allows for people to sit on the U and not just across (seating for 5!) - the long bar - too bad they don't have a full liquor license yet, so no raki....
First, a loaf of sliced bread - like a little loaf of Italian, but glazed on the outside and slightly firmer on the inside (as if that's a helpful description) -
Came with "EZME (HOT PEPPER PASTE) - Spicy tomato & red pepper dip made with onions, green peppers, parsley, olive oil & spices. " Was not spicy at all, but had a nice flavor of tomatoes and red pepper - light, good spread for the bread.
We two shared one meze, one app, one salad and one entree.
Meze: Haydari dip - a yogurt, garlic, mint and ground walnut - good flavor, huge portion - slathered our bread in it, but I was kind of craving a bag of Ruffles potato chips.
App: Special of zucchini fritters - four disks, crispy outside, ooey-gooey zucchini center, a little greasy, but good, nothing special. Guess I was expecting something puffier and breadier. The accompanying sauce of tsatziki was weak on the garlic, but we slathered on more of the yummy haydari, which was a good thing.
Salad: Shepard's salad - pretty standard dice of cucumber, celery, tomato, onion...good balance of veggies and good dressing - good side dish to the main...
Main: I've buried the lede - we got the Combo kebab - three generous pieces each of grilled chicken, beef tenderloin, and lamb - subbed in fries for the rice - fries were some nicely browned small potatoes - veggies were slices of grilled carrot, some green beans and a couple of broccoli crowns.
Asked for medium rare and did not quite get that, was medium really, but it did not matter - all of the meat was VERY flavorful and juicy. Really cooked to perfection and I thought really high quality meat. The beef in particular was very medium cooked, but so juicy - Not a bit of tendon or other stuff that you can often get with kebobs. This was quality tenderloin.
The portion was huge in my opinion - if we were not splitting it, it would have split one of us. We ended up taking home 3 of the nine pieces of meat for a later lunch.
We each had a glass of the Turkish wines - my red was quite surprisingly delicious (the second one on the list, at $11). DW had the first white and liked it.
Oh, for dessert, Turkish coffees and split the kunefe - Shredded phyllo dough filled with fresh mozzarella cheese, baked, topped with syrup and pistachios. Warm, syrupy, cheesy goodness. I could have had a dozen of these (and then would have passed out....)
I understand Chicken's comment about the pacing of the service - but one person's slow is another's leisurely - actually, we quite enjoyed not being rushed AT ALL on a Saturday night - amazing how often you get used to the speed of service at most places - and I don't mind normally speedy service, and maybe it was not done on purpose here, but the server was very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with info on the wines, apps, etc., but left us the heck alone for a long time with the entrees....it was actually a pleasant surprise.
All in all, we both agreed it was one of the more enjoyable dining experiences we've had recently, in no small part because it was so darn pleasant and relaxed. I think it would be unfair to compare it to Brookline Family or Istanbul'lu - both of which we really like - but Bosphorus presents a nicer place to grab dinner with friends, and the quality of meat on the kebabs was really high.
If they get a full liquor license, I might be there more often. If they kick it up a notch with the garlic and spices, I might be there more often. That said, I definitely plan to return.
re: Bob Dobalina
Bob I had the same experience, more or less, on Thursday. I had a gift certificate and was a little nervous about using it since many experiences seemed to be somewhat middling, but I thought it was actually great. The service was perfect, pacing was good, the waitress was very nice and thorough. We had a couple mezze - the smoky eggplant and hummus - and very good stuffed grapeleaves, which seemed extremely fresh and had a nice cinnamon taste. I steered clear of Iskender Kebab since it seemed hit or miss, but really enjoyed the Doner Kebab--good lamb and beef, well cooked, and a nice buttery pilaf. My dining partner had the ground chicken kebab, it was moist and well flavored. The space is really impressive, extremely well designed and unusual, and the bar would be quite appealing if they had a liquor license. If they dropped their prices a bit I would make it a much more regular option.