Standout Turkish Mezze at Grill 43

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Update 12/30/12: This venue is now closed.

I came back to Grill 43 for the eggs, but there were none to be found.

The unassuming Turkish restaurant's menemen—scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers—is some of the finest I've had stateside, but it's only available for breakfast. If you visit later in the day, you should put yourself in the mood for mezze.

None of the grilled meat at Grill 43 wows me, but their cold salads and dips ($4 to $5 each) are worth a visit all on their own. A plate of four will run you $13.95 which, with endless refills of warm, crusty bread, makes a worthy light lunch for two (or a piggish meal for one).

The best of the lot may be the ezme, a sweet and piercingly spicy relish of finely chopped tomatoes, roasted peppers, and herbs that spreads its brightness and heat across the plate. Sauteed eggplant runs a close second with silky eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes dressed liberally with olive oil; it boasts a sneaky heat of its own.

Other eggplant dishes don't disappoint: the gently smoked patlican salad (Turkish babaganoush) is plenty creamy but almost weightless; whole grilled eggplant is meatier, smokier, and way more garlic-driven.

Less noteworthy but still substantial is the tarama, tangy cream whipped with fishy roe. Slather it on some bread, cut the fat with that ezme, and go to town. Grill 43's a sleeper of a restaurant, but don't sleep on it.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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