The hunt for New York's best Turkish food has taken me to unexpected places. Midtown East. Sunnyside. And now Gravesend, to Taci's Beyti, a well-regarded Brooklyn restaurant that some call the finest Turkish cooking in the borough.
A mezze-heavy meal there turned out some very solid renditions of Turkish classics. It didn't reach the level of Sip Sak, my Turkish gold standard, but for Turkish food enthusiasts, the reasonably priced and well executed dishes are well worth the 45 minute subway trip from Union Square. I'd return for the eggplant alone.
But my favorites of the lot, the ones on par with New York's best, were lamb in two forms: a juicy, excellently spiced Adana Kebab ($15.25, top) and the saucy, greasy mess of lamb, yogurt, tomato, and bread called Iskender Kebab ($15.25). Here's some of the juiciest, most delicately lamb-y lamb I've enjoyed in New York, rounded out in both cases with silky, mildly tart yogurt that cuts straight through any fat.
In the adana, the chopped lamb is joined by a heavy sprinkle of sweet red chili, a simple but bold spicing move that draws out the meat's natural sweetness. But the Iskender is all about the savory: crisp-edged lamb browned well on a spit, topped with an intensely savory tomato sauce and an extra helping of that yogurt. Triangles of pita lie beneath the plate, soaking up the not-insubstantial grease. I enjoyed taking the two as a pair, a way to appreciate everything lamb brings to the table.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one more dish. Remember when Kenji made me the pastrami-topped hummus of my dreams? Well it just so happens that Taci's Beyti offers Hummus with Pastrami ($9), a hot appetizer of soft, creamy hummus topped with thin slices of pastirma, the slightly fermented, mostly dried analog to Italian carpaccio. The serving dish, hummus and all, gets broiled briefly so the hummus starts to brown and the pastirma curls and starts to render its small amount of fat. It's a unique take on hummus to say the least, and one worth sharing.