My family and I visited Istanbul Cafe last Tuesday evening. The Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant sits downtown on Vine Street, not far from the intersection with 7th. From my research, the restaurant was formerly named Turquoise.
The inside of the restaurant does in fact have turquoise walls along with Mediterranean artifacts and even Cincinnati history hanging on them. The crowd was filling around half of the available tables upon our arrival at close to 8 P.M., which seemed surprising to me in the downtown location. We were given a table in the back of the restaurant and offered high chairs for the kids.
Typically my wife and I will split a sampler appetizer when visiting a Mediterranean restaurant like this, but we didn’t like the idea of the chef picking the selections as part of their sampler. So we just decided to order two entrees and split those. I ordered the Chicken Adana Kebab, which is ground chicken seasoned with red peppers, parsley, and paprika, then grilled on skewers ($14). This was served with basmati rice and sauteed vegetables. The chicken was outstanding! It was full of flavor and grilled to a crisp on the outside, yet the inside was moist and delicious.
My wife ordered the falafel plate, which consisted of four falafel patties, hummus and and salad ($13). The falafel and hummus are two items we would definitely want on a sampler, so this was a good way to try them both. The falafel was much too dense and chewy for my tastes and I would not order it again. However the hummus was creamy, just as it should be, and with very good taste, and the green salad was surprisingly pleasant as well.
Even with mediocre falafel, I think Istanbul Cafe’s excellent chicken adana kebab and hummus were enough to earn a return trip sometime in the future. Also the restaurant is BYOB, so don’t forgot to pack your favorite bottles of suds on your visit.