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Nov 28, 2013 03:25 PM

Mavi Grill - Authentic Turkish Food in Richmond Hill! Very good first impression!!

Today, whilst driving along Bayview Avenue in search of a decent place for a quick lunch, I noticed this new place - ' Mavi Grill ' in the same plaza as Solo Maria, the Italian restaurant.

Expecting it to be another Wimpey Diner type clone, upon entering the premise, I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be a ' Turkish ' restaurant with a Turkish floor manager and a Turkish chef manning the grill/kitchen!

My confidence of the place was further reinforced when I noticed a whole slew of Turkish dishes and Kebabs listed on the interesting and authentic looking menu. Adana, Iskender, Doner, Shish.... Kebabs, Izgara Kofte, Bulgar Pilav, Coban Salatasi and my favourite Turkish dessert - Sutlac (rice pudding), not to mention 'Turkish Coffee!'

For my lunch, I ordered the Doner Veal and Lamb Kebab with Bulgar Pilav, Coban Salatasi and a cup of Turkish Coffee.

The Coban Salatasi (Turkish Garden salad) was nicely seasoned and dressed with herbs, olive Oil and lemon juice. Ingredients of bell peppers, pickled radishes, tomatoes, onions, parsley..etc were all fresh and crisp. The Turkish rice was cooked in sundried tomato paste and saffron and has a wonderful chewy texture, not unlike barley! The generous Doner meat was also nicely seasoned with lovely smokey char and accompanied with both garlic and yogurt dipping sauces. Finally, that cup of coffee! Yup! as seen in the photo, its the real McCoy, dainty and with cooked down coffee sediments at the bottom of the cup!

Surrounded by ever growing Persian eateries in the area, I was so glad to discover this Turkish gem that serves a different version and style of Kebabs. For sure, I will be back to try out their Shish Kebabs, the Hangover Soup and the Sutlac. The latter, I was so tempted to but just too full to try today!!

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  1. Thanks Charles! I can't wait to try real turkish coffee.

    Here's their menu for those interested.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mrsleny

      speaking of turkish coffee, i drove past a turkish cafe on the danforth recently (somewhere between donlands and broadview, i think.. i know, a broad area but i cant recall more specific than that). i think i must have known it was a turkish cafe since it must have said that on the sign. curious to try sometime as i have never had turkish coffee before. hs anyone been here and is it any good? or any other downtown-ish places? richmond hill is too far for me to trek just to get some coffee (though the food sounds good too) :)

      1. re: helenhelen

        Mavi Grill is closed....
        They shut down about a month or so ago.
        The place is up for lease , that means they are not coming back.

    2. Wow. Must try. Have never had Turkish food and right now it and Persian are two things I really want to get out and sample.


      15 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        Hello DT.
        Love to hear your feed back. Personally, I dislike Persian food finding them too 'bland' for my liking. Turkish or other Middle Eastern food I find more seasoned, flavorful and intense.

        1. re: Charles Yu

          I don't know where you've eaten Persian food but it isn't bland compared to other Middle Eastern fare.

          This Turkish restaurant looks like every other Turkish restaurant you find in the GTA. The same repetitive dishes rolled out. If their photos are to be believed, there's no reason to go.

          That kebap platter is a disgrace. Where are my onions tossed in sumac or my onions softened under embers tossed with cumin and pomegranate molasses?

          I could go on but I'll nip myself in the bud right there.

          1. re: radiopolitic

            Which Turkish restaurants do you like in Toronto? I think Anatolia in the west end is very good.

            1. re: radiopolitic

              Chowhound is an open forum, so I guess everyone is entitled to his or her own personal opinion and view point! Feel free to disagree. But trashing someone's first hand experience without trying the food and using such adjective as 'disgrace' is IMO going a little bit too far!

              As for Persian food. FYI, I have visited Tehran during the Shah's era and have lived in Paris for over 2 years. So I have eaten my fair share of decent and authentic Persian food ( especially when my Parisian landlord was Iranian! ). Furthermore, I current live in Richmond Hill and as i eluded to above, there are 'tons' of Persian ( and Korean ) restaurants stretching along Yonge from Finch to Major Mac ( but not a single Turkish place ). Because my son loves Persian rice and Kebabs, I have accompanied him in trying out quite a few Persian places. However, be it in Iran, Europe or North America, I am simply NOT into this cuisine. As for other Middle Eastern food, I have visited Israel and Lebanon and have lived in London for over a decade. As such, I have also had my fair share of Middle Eastern roasted and braised Lamb dishes, Donairs and Shawarmas....etc. Their seasoning I found more complex and flavorful. So, to each its own!!!

              Lastly, I noticed most GTA's Turkish eateries are in the North York or Mississauga area. So, if you live further down south, of course there is no reason for you to come up and try??!! However, to us hounds who live up north and in an area dominated by Chinese food. The availability of something different and exotic is a welcoming sight!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Have you tried North?? Yonge and Steeles area for Persian. We have a Persian right around the corner and he says it's the best in the GTA. I've also heard that from a couple of the waitresses at the bar I used to frequent apres hockey. They had the market cornered on gorgeous young Persian girls at one point. Most would just tell you "at my house" when you asked where the good stuff is though.

                If/when I try Persian I'll let you know.


                1. re: Davwud

                  Yes! In fact I did try 'North'! No 'gorgeous young Persian girls' during my visit though!! Ha!
                  Large 'darkish' place with IMO, just oKay food. To paraphase radiopolitic's wording "This Persian restaurant looks like every other Persian restaurant you find in the GTA.".
                  Here are some photos of the place and food.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Agree that North is just okay. Pomegranate on College has tastier Persian dishes IMHO.

                    1. re: Degustation

                      I'm also looking forward to trying Pomegranate's sister restaurant, Takht-e Tavoos.


                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        So am I. Brings back fond memories of Persian breakfasts at Byblos in Mtl.

                2. re: Charles Yu

                  Good response Charles. I am also not into Persian food though I confess I have only tried a handful of places. As well I am vegetarian so that limits my choices but the salads and dips etc that I have tried did not wow me. However I am a fan of "middle eastern" food from Hanna's Shawarma and Me Va Me.

                  Everyone's taste in food is different. I did not expect to like Ethiopian but when I tried it, it was love at first taste. We are incredibly fortunate to have access to so much diverse cuisine in the GTA. Tibetan food is also on my list.

                  And getting back on topic, I can't wait to try Mavi Grill.

              2. re: Charles Yu

                Agree 100%. Persian food is dull and bland. Nothing wrong with it, but once is more than enough.

                1. re: evansl

                  I couldn't disagree more, even if I tried really really hard.

                  Persian food dull and bland?!


                  1. re: magic

                    I challenge anyone to drink a nice big glass of doogh and then call Persian food bland.

                2. re: Charles Yu

                  I agree 100%. Persian is bland and boring. I also agree with the posts that having kebabs and strong coffee doesn't make a place authentically Turkish. There has only been 1 real Turkish place open in Toronto, Nephes, and it closed about 2-3 years ago.

              3. My heart skipped a beat when you wrote "Authentic Turkish Food" in your title. But then I looked at the menu and was dismayed to see that it's another place that specializes in kababs rather than in the more complex and exquisite "Palace" cuisine of Turkey.

                Where are the imam bayildi, the hunkar begendi... It's so sad that such a glorious cuisine is downplayed to such a degree in this city.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Tatai

                  Folks,I think we are all being too critical here!! Afterall, we are in Canada and NOT Istanbul or Bursa, Turkey!! One should be grateful that, at least in an 'outpost' like Richmond Hill, there is a Turkish place attempting to serve one of the famed 'Kebap' of Turkey ' Iskender' to us un-educated folks! Of course, in a perfect world, for Turkish food, I would love to see 'ALL' of Turkey's kebaps available in one restaurant, from Adana, Bugu, Cig, Doner, Erclyes, Fistiku to Patlican, Sis, Testi, Tokat, Urfa....etc.

                  Furthermore 'Authenticity', I think, should NOT be judged by the quantity or availability of certain dishes. Take Persian cuisine that fellow hound radiololitic was eluding to. Just take a.look at the large number of Persian restaurants along Yonge north of Sheppard!!.So many of them claimed to serve 'authentic' Persian food. But tell me, how many of them actually serve up really authentic Persian dishes like the 'Khoresh-e Fesenjan' of Isfahan using the traditional 'duck' simmered in onion, ground roasted walnuts and pamegranate syrup to falling off the bone or the Persian 'Tachin Polo' I had in Tehran, where the golden crust of the Polo was achieved by slow baking the cooked layered rice and chicken in a buttered pan?! Chefs and people nowadays, simply do not bother to take the time in preparing these sort of dishes!

                  Interesting to see the same type of argument and discussion about authentic and best 'sushi' somehow moth ed into discussion of Persian and Turkish cuisine!!

                  Lastly, along the 'Yonge' stretch, the number of Korean eateries with pure uni-lingual Korean signage and no English menus easily surpasses the number of Persian restaurants in the same vicinity. However, to my knowledge, almost all of them claim to be authentic and yet, none of them offers the colorful 'gujeolpan' that often forms the centrepiece of a Korean 'Royal' banquet - the reference yardstick for best traditional and authentic Korean cuisine! Are we to dismiss that none of them serve up authentic Korean food then?!!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Maybe it's just me but I find it odd that they serve up Persian items on their menu....

                    1. re: deabot

                      Well, nowadays, there are a lot of ' cross border migration ' of dishes going on between ethnic restaurants. eg.,The 'most authentic' French bistro, Le Select features 'Italian' dishes - Risotto and Gnocchi in its French menu!! 'Chinese' eateries in Scarborough have 'Spaghetti Bolognese' on their luncheon menus!! Chinese restaurant O Mei has been serving 'Japanese Mirugai sashimi' with wasabi for years!
                      So, in the case of Mavi, since one has already got a charcoal grill going, why not add some Persian kebabs to the mix?! Makes good business sense considering one of the owner is Persian and there are quite a few Persians living in the Richmond Hill area!

                    2. re: Charles Yu

                      somewhere in Turkey, a Chowhound poster's typing the praises of the great Canadian restaurant he ate at where everything was made from maple syrup.

                  2. Today (Sunday) we drove 30 Kms(one way) to try this Turkish restaurant that was to open at 12.00 PM. At 1.00 pm the restaurant was closed. The sign on the door ,as wall as the internet stated that they open at 12.00 PM
                    This is no way to run a business. I will not try this place again.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: psyrtash

                      I'm so sorry to hear that!! I'll let them know if and when I drive pass them again!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        They've recently overhauled the menu at Mavi Grill, as I discovered when a friend and I stumbled in to the joint the other night. The Persian dishes, though still listed on the menu, were not available, and many of the prices of the Turkish dishes have been adjusted downward (e.g. lentil soup, once $5.50, is now $3.50), changes that have still to be noted in the resto's online menu. I have a hunch that a revamped menu will be coming out shortly. Aside from that, the food at this seven-month-old place is - as that indefatigable nosher, Charles Yu, has attested - tasty, accessible and now even more reasonably priced, presumably to compete better with other mid-level ethnic places in the neighbourhood. Two can dine quite well for $30-$40, all in, even less if you go for lunch-style wraps instead of dinner platters. It's a cute little place on the edge of a well-cared-for plaza on north Bayview Ave. just south of Elgin Mills Rd. Charming, if slightly amateurish, service. The Turkish ambience isn't too kitschy. We had the lentil soup - good, subtle, though I lean towards the bolder Middle East versions you'll find at places like Me Va Me. Adana kebab for me, doner veal and lamb platter for my friend, both with crunchy Turkish rice and zingy salad, all intensely flavourful, with a side of hummus. Tasty Turkish bread. It's not a knockout nosh, but perfectly enjoyable, at the price. No licence. How authentic it was, I knoweth not. I've only been to one other Turkish resto, on Wilson Ave. west of Dufferin, and though the menu there was longer, more complex and seemingly more authentic, the tastes weren't as intense as at Mavi Grill. Not a spot to make a pilgrimage to, but something a little different if you live up that way.

                        1. re: juno

                          Wife and I had the adana kebab and iskander a couple of weeks ago. The Iskander kebab is delicious. Really well seasoned and very tasty. The adana kebab I found just a little dry and dense. I will try something else before going back to the Adana but the Iskander I will probably find hard to pass up.

                          We ordered take out over the phone and asked for cucik (cucumber salad?) instead of their house salad. When I picked up the order, they were just finishing up the dishes and they showed me each order before packing them up. When I got home, my wife told me that the resto had called to say they forgot about my special request and gave us the regular salad instead (I didn't even notice, the kebabs looked so good I forgot about everything else). They apologized and offered us 10% off the next time we ordered. I was pleasantly surprised that a restaurant would take the time to call and apologize .. and so quickly (I was still in the car on the way home). My wife really enjoyed the salad so we weren't upset with the mistake at all.

                          All in all, I would definitely go back to try something else on the menu. Anyone have a particular suggestion?

                    2. BTW, sorry to report. The place has closed!! Sigh!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Already?? That plaza is a bit off the beaten path. Sweet Basil closed a while. Not sure how long its replacement will last. The parking lot always looks so empty every time we drive by.