Black Sea Offers Affordable Turkish Delights
On my first visit to the Turkish restaurant Black Sea, food kept flying from the table towards me. Literally. My appetizer of fried eggplant and yogurt sauce ($3.45) came with a bowl of pita wedges. When the Turkish woman who took my order, placed the appetizer on the table, one pita wedge flew from its bowl right at me.
“For you, “ the woman teased. But boy, did she end up being right. The pita was warm and chewy, with just a slight sweetness. I gobbled those wedges fast, clumsily taking bites of pita while at the same time tearing into the sliced rounds of eggplant before me, fried with the skin on, and drizzled with both a tangy yogurt sauce and a red sauce that gave the dish a kick.
Black Sea Restaurant is located at 737 Snelling Ave. N., in St. Paul.
While waiting for my meal, I played with the long strands of brown beads hanging down like curtains on each side of my table. The rows of beads function like see-through booths, separating tables of diners from one another.
Nearly every square inch of the walls was covered with colorful artifacts -- posters of Turkey, traditional Turkish clothing, colored tiles, sheets, beads. You name it, it was on these walls. But be careful before you call it clutter, because each piece added to the restaurant's homespun feel. The food demonstrated that as well. Around me, other diners were digging into their dinners – a platter that included a high pile of thinly sliced gyro meat (roasted on the premises), or a bright yellow-orange chicken kebob dish that came with a variety of vegetables and a side of white rice.
Turkish Tea may come in small glasses, but don't worry, the refills are free!
While my dining companion and I ate, we also drank – my friend sipped a yogurt drink called Ayran ($1.65), that was far more sour then she anticipated, and for me, the Turkish black tea, Cay ($1.55), served in a traditional, little tulip-shaped glass.
Already full from my appetizer, I was determined that when my light, vegetarian entrée arrived, I would proceed delicately. Black Sea offers many meat-free options. Among them are chickpea dishes, falafel dishes, salads and a few soups, including a cucumber-yogurt soup and a red lentil soup. For my entrée, I had settled on a meze plate of cabbage rolls, falafel, humus, olives, feta cheese, and tomatoes. When it, arrived I knew I hit the jackpot. I was happy with each of the elements separately and together. My meze plate came with the same warm pita as the appetizer had. Like King Midas with his golden touch, everything my wedge of pita touched, turned delicious.
The Acili Kofte Kebab was bold in size and taste.
My dinner companion opted for Acili Kofte Kebab ($8.45) – a more-food-than-we-had-imagined dish that included six flattened beef balls mixed with a variety of spices and drenched in a spicy red sauce. The meatballs were amazing, full of both a meaty and spicy flavor. They came on a bed of lettuce, tomato, feta, onions, which were also sprinkled with herbs. And they came with pita. Perhaps you can guess what happened? In the end, my friend got full too quickly. I did as any friend would and helped her finish her entire meal as well as wiping my own plate clean. But what was I supposed to do? The food was coming right at me!