September 07, 2013
When my son and his girlfriend were visiting last weekend, and we were picking a restaurant to go to for lunch, my son said he wanted to try a place he had never been. I knew just the spot — Café Turko, in the Fremont neighborhood. We'd been meaning to go there ever since it first opened, but although it's really close to our house, for some unknown reason, we had never eaten there. Just recently, though, Café Turko had catered the food at the monthly Vegetarians of Washington dinner that we attend, and it was excellent — the yam hummus was a revelation. The die was cast.
We first met Sureyya Gokeri, who co-owns Café Turko with her husband, Gencer Gokeri, when we attended one of her vegan Middle Eastern mezze cooking classes at our local food co-op. We enjoyed the class so much we took another one from Sureyya — a Middle Eastern 30-minute cooking class, which was fabulous. When Sureyya told the class she and her husband were incorporating a cafe into their Turkish import business, and the menu would be filled with vegetarian and vegan food, we were very excited — but then we kind of forgot about it until we tasted the food again at the VegWa dinner.
The restaurant space is charming and homey, and as soon as the six of us settled into our seats, Sureyya came over to greet us and tell us she had just made some amazing beet salad that we might want to try. We studied the menu and saw that, although the restaurant isn't vegetarian, the vegetarian and vegan dishes were clearly marked. In fact, even the gluten-free dishes were noted, making ordering a lot easier. There were so many choices that it took us a while to make up our minds.
I regret that I forgot my camera and only had my iphone, and that I failed to take photos of the beautiful food ordered my my dining companions. So, you will only get a taste of what was on our table. I'm also sorry that I didn't photograph the dining room and the adjacent import section — so colorful and warm. The tray you see above, held a large assortment of condiments that were available on all the tables. (I noticed as we left the restaurant that there were bags of the mixtures available for purchase.)
Several people at the table started out with lentil soup, and they were very enthusiastic about it. I had a taste of my husband's soup and thought it was complex, fragrant and delicious. My son loved his soup so much that when Mr. Gokeri came to clear away his bowl, he didn't want to let it go because it still held a few drops of soup that he was sopping up with bread. Mr. Gokeri brought him another bowl! How amazing is that?
My husband ordered the beet salad that Sureyya had told us about, and was thrilled with his choice. It was substantial, fresh and filled with hearty greens like kale. Combined with the soup, it made a perfect lunch.
I ordered the Ottoman Palace Vegetarian Plate, and because I apparently didn't read the menu correctly, didn't realize it would come with rice and salad. It was delicious, with creamy eggplant, green beans, tomatoes and other veggies, and I was stuffed — but feeling good!
Our venture to Café Turko was a huge success, and we left feeling full and happy. Can't wait to return.