Posted On: 05/03/2016
Sheesh Restaurant stands out on South Grand for more than its Turkish cuisine. The place itself is striking, rich with colorful woven fabric (window treatments, upholstery, even the servers’ vests) and dripping with copper, from the low round table tops to the serving dishes, pitchers and plates. If Turkish food is as unfamiliar to you as it was to me, don’t worry. It shares many flavors and dishes with others in the Middle East and Mediterranean. But don’t stop at the hummus or falafel – here’s what to get at Sheesh.
My meals at Sheesh started with a complimentary bowl of ezogelin, a Turkish soup whose unassuming appearance belied a rich complexity of flavor. The blend of lentils, bulgur and a spicy tomato base was topped with a sprinkle of mint for a savory, fresh balanced soup I’d happily have paid for.
Of the several salads available, order the tabbouleh. The mix of ground wheat, cucumber, tomato, onion and fresh parsley was light and refreshing, with a bright lemon dressing – an ideal complement to more substantial lunch entrees.
The chicken doner saw shaved white meat rotisserie chicken paired with tomatoes and pickles, topped with a garlicky tahini sauce. The pickles provided crunch and a burst of brine, while the sauce kept the pita-wrapped chicken moist and flavorful.
Falafel can have a dry interior, but here the chickpea patties were tender and crumbly, absorbing the same tahini that appeared on the chicken doner. Packed with falafel, tomatoes and pickles, this wrap was filling without overwhelming. It’s an order that won’t make you too sluggish to go back to work.
The Urfa kebab was a skewer of grilled lamb served alongside grilled tomato and onion over a white and brown rice mix. Presentation was simple, but flavor wasn’t. Each element played an integral role in the whole – the meat was juicy and charred just enough to provide a distinct smoky flavor, the onion slices were browned and tender and the tomato’s acidity balanced the savory dish.
The chicken biryani offered generous chunks of grilled white meat chicken paired with plump raisins, chickpeas and brown rice. The combination of sweet and savory worked well together and a tangy yogurt sauce featuring carrot and mint added another layer of flavor.
There’s nothing wrong with a lunch dessert. Three small squares of flaky, buttery, pistachio baklava weren’t too sweet or syrupy – this was the perfect end note for a filling meal.
Sheesh’s whole menu is available during lunch, but some entrees, like the chicken biryani, are only available in full dinner portions at full dinner prices. Though there’s something to be said for ample leftovers, I’d prefer to see a few more items on the lunch menu besides kebabs and wraps. The only thing to avoid is the Sheesh Special Salad, which was a letdown. With fried eggplant, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and fried pita atop a bed of lettuce, the salad tasted less interesting than it sounded, with barely noticeable pieces of fried eggplant.
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