Lamb Chunks Over Eggplant Purée ($18)
With spoon-tender knobs of lamb braised with tomato and olive oil. At other Turkish restaurants around Manhattan, the eggplant purée is enriched—and dumbed down, you could say—with cream. Sip Sak keeps it cleaner, heavy on the smoke and the eggplant's natural fruitiness.
Mixed Mezze Platter
Turkish meals frequently begin with an assortment of small plates called mezze, and Sip Sak's menu runs the gamut of classics: hummus, cacık* (a tzatziki-like yogurt spread), patlıcan salatası (a super-smoky eggplant purée similar to, but lighter than babaganoush). But you'll also find some you may not be looking for, like braised celery root or artichokes with fava beans. They are all listed as separate items, but say the word and the kitchen will make up a mixed mezze plate for you.
Mixed Mezze Platter
Does a plate of vegetables deserve all this attention? At Sip Sak it does. And when it comes to $11.50 a person (prices can vary), it's a gift.
A thin flatbread topped with minced lamb, tomato, and herbs (the bar pie of Turkey), balances crisp crust and tender meat with an unmatched acuity in New York.
Chicken Adana Kebab ($19)
Lamb reigns here, but the minced chicken kebab is a sleeper success, with the sweet heft of dark meat made all the sweeter by red pepper.
Lamb Adana Kebab ($19)
The lamb version is no slouch either, just gamey enough and perfectly seasoned.
The restaurant looks more like a Midtown bistro than a Turkish enclave, with tin ceilings and accents of marble and brass, though its prices are well in line with the city's other Turkish bastions. You'll find more refinement in the food here as well, making it one of the few "nice" places in Midtown East that offers serious cooking for those without expense accounts.
Braised Short Ribs ($24)
One exception to the braised-is-awesome rule: Short Ribs over mashed potatoes may sound like a picky eater's respite, but it's underseasoned with gummy starch. A far better bet is something closer to Yegen's roots, like the Stuffed Cabbage when it's on the menu. It's the lamb-rice-tomato combination we've seen before, but in a more comforting package, and brought to life with dill.
A special for the day, the rice was cooked with caramelized onions, caramelized pine nuts, sweet cinnamon, and more braised lamb—those caramelized pine nuts will spoil you.
Turkish Coffee ($4)
Sip Sak's Turkish coffee is bracingly strong, but balanced.
Almond Pudding ($7)
Admittedly light on the almonds, but the custard is smooth and quite light, silky in a way that most starch-thickened puddings never are.
Butternut Squash ($7)
The squash is roasted in large chunks and glazed, then tossed in a sundae glass with thick cream and walnuts. It's the dessert hater's dessert—only lightly sweet with vegetal flavors weaving their way through the cream.
Baklava comes in the Turkish style, light on the syrup and heavy on the pistachios, with both soft and crisp layers of phyllo.
Semolina Halva ($7)
A pine nut-enriched semolina crust over a dome of pleasantly creamy ice cream.