Ali Nazik at Istanbul Grill & Deli

I've passed by Istanbul Grill & Deli often during dinner hour but never stopped as the parking situation always made me a bit nervous.

However, after hearing a Turkish colleague of mine praise the place, I stopped the car, put on my flashers, and dashed in for some takeout. Some online reviewers have criticized Istanbul Grill for its poor ambience, but I thought the dining room, which was filled to the brim even on a windy weeknight, looked cozy. The food was still hot even though I was a few minutes late and the server rang up my credit card lickety-split.

I had ordered the Ali Nazik ($12) because it featured eggplant and lamb, both of which I very much enjoy but never cook for myself. A garlic yogurt sauce enveloped the pureed eggplant, stir-fried ground lamb, and ripe tomatoes to form a wonderful stew of sorts. Although garlic was by far the dominant flavor, I also picked up the taste of green peppers, which gave it a nice little kick.

When it's relatively chilly and you haven't eaten much all day, it's not hard to devour a simple comforting dish like Ali Nazik, which came with fluffy seasoned pita bread convenient for shoving huge scoops into my mouth. My only complaint regarding this delightful accompaniment was that I could have used about three more pieces in light of the generous portion.

An entrée that tastes great even as takeout ranks pretty highly in my book, and I look forward to ordering the Ali Nazik in-house with an entire basket of bread.

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