Groupon was having a local deals sale and when I saw the deal for Taste of Istanbul's 6 course meal for 4 people for $110, I couldn't resist trying it.
Our six courses included: cold appetizer, soup, hot appetizer, main course, dessert and coffee or tea
Clockwise from top: Patlican Kizartmasi (fried eggplant salad), babaghanouj (babagannush) and Pilaki (kidney bean salad)
Everything was pretty good and the portion sizes were really very filling. The pita and the babaghanouj were good (the babaghanouj would have been better with a little more salt), but my favourite was probably the eggplant salad - delicious and so tasty despite being chilled. Everything was fresh and flavourful in our first course.
Tavuk Corbasi (Chicken soup) and Kuzu Corbasi (Lamb Soup)
Mercimek Corbasi (Lentil soup)
Of the soups, the only one I would recommend is the lamb soup since it was the most flavourful and aromatic. However, if you're not a fan of lamb, then the lentil soup would be the other choice (the chicken was really watered down and tasteless).
Kalamar (Grilled Calamari)
The grilled calamari was good! Nice, juicy and tasty with the Cacik (tzatziki sauce)
The portions were also huge! A sure sign of lots of food to come if the hot appetizer was already so big.
Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)
Crispy flatbread topped with ground beef and lamb, onion, garlic and spices. I'm not too sure if there was a sauce on this, but I thought it was better without anyways. A very meaty pizza with lots of crunchy flatbread. The tomatoes and onions were a little odd on the side of the pizza, but the lemon actually made the pizza taste better. Very interesting.
Sultan Izgara (Sultan Grill) for One
An assortment of grilled meats (beef, chicken and lamb). This dish was probably the best value for money on the menu, but it was so much meat with kobideh, lamb chop and chicken breast kebab. All well done and rather tasty with the spices.
Sultan Izgara (Sultan Grill) for Two
Some minor differences: there was a meat patty (chicken kefta?), ground beef kebab and everything in the Sultan Grill for one.
The Sultan Grill came with a side and we got bulgar pilaf, which had this really interesting texture and flavour that I thought worked well with the meat. It seemed really hearty.
Inegol Kofte (beef served with spices, pilaf and roasted vegetables)
The meat was more on the well-done side, but still tasty. The rice pilaf portion was pretty plentiful.
Very strong and a little less bitter than an espresso shot since we could add sugar. Personally, I preferred the tea (which was the tea they served at the beginning of our meal anyways).
Walnuts, sugar syrup, pistachios all drizzled in honey and wrapped in a phyllo pastry. A little too sticky and sweet for me.
Another dessert with shredded phyllo and layers of nutty paste. Not as sticky and sweet as the one on top, but I wasn't a fan of the shredded top layer.
Overall: I found that I enjoyed my meal at Taste of Istanbul. It was a lot of food (especially meat), the service was good and it was good value for money for the Groupon experience. It was really a five course meal, but I thought the food was tasty and the portions were huge.