Kofte Piyaz: Turkish Grill and Soothing Lentil Soup in Sunset Park
Before winter is over you should eat this lentil soup.
It'd be good any time of year, but now especially, when its well blended starchiness masquerades as cream and its simple earthy flavor feels especially comforting. (Chowhound makes for timely discoveries.)
Kofte Piyaz is principally a Turkish meat house in Sunset Park that looks like a small diner. Gyros, sujuk (Turkish sausage), and meatballs (the namesake kofte) dominate the menu, but it's the Lentil Soup ($2.85) that has me thinking about the restaurant days after my meal. It's an uncomplicated dish: sweet onions and good stock mixed with the pleasing flavor of beans that have been cooking for a long, long time. The soup is creamy and lump-free but still light, with only a dusting of dried mint for contrast. It's delicately seasoned—soothing, not bold.
"This is the best lentil soup in Brooklyn!" the owner says proudly. I'm not about to disagree.
The soup's best accompanied by Coban Salad ($3.85), which is crisp and bright in all the ways the soup is soft and subtle. A slab of slightly funky feta comes draped over the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and it mixes well with the lemony dressing and bursts of briny olive juice.
Order these alone and you have a fine, fine dinner for $7. Order a ten-inch sandwich ($4.85 to $5.85) and you can split the meal with a friend for even less. The restaurant's namesake kofte are well charred, though not especially juicy. But what juices you do get are clean, refreshing insofar as a meatball can be.
But better is that sujuk, a hulked upTurkish hot dog. The spiced garlicky sausage is sliced thin and charred well, chewy with a meaty snap. Poofy sandwich bread and crisp lettuce give it some balance, though you should ask them to hold the tomatoes until July. All the carbs obscure the meat a little, so if you want to go right for the filling, you should order your grilled items unadorned.
There's a short dessert menu with inconsistent availability. Our visit yielded only a pasty oversweet walnut baklava ($2.85); I'm more hopeful about the almond pudding and syrup-drizzled butternut squash.
Instead, end your meal with a cup of Turkish tea ($.95). It's strong, but less so than what you'd find in Istanbul—meaning you can drink it without adding a heaping tablespoon of sugar. The tea is conducive to lingering. Kofte Piyaz is less shabby than its Fifth Avenue neighbors, and its service is pleasantly unhurried. The food here is cheap, but the charm is free.
881 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map)