Istanbul Was the Shish

This is part 2 of a culinary weekend in Cary that started with the Pimento Cheese Festival.

After we spent some time catching up dinner time rolled around and we decided to try a place that had been on my sister’s radar but she’d never been. Istanbul Restaurant & Cafe is pretty convenient so if she liked it she’d have a new option in her dining portfolio.

When we got there it was not that promising as there was only one other car. People started rolling in though just about the time we got our menus and placed the drink order. The folks running the place, if not from Turkey, were definitely from the Mediterranean area. My sister ordered the chicken shish plate while I ordered the mixed grill because I love variety.

Warm bread and olive oil to dip it in came out first and some tzatziki we ordered as an appetizer. Both very delicious. It really got going when the entrees rolled out.

The mixed grill came with adana kabob, chicken kabob and kofta meatballs for the meats. There was also rice, vegetables, a small wedge of bread and a sauce to dip in. Honestly it was all well spiced and grilled just right. The chicken was my favorite which surprised me since I generally love the beef lamb mix of the adana and kofta. If I’d been going back to my house I’d probably have taken half of this home but instead I unwisely powered through and earned some midnight heartburn. I don’t regret it too much though, it was too good to leave. Judging by her reaction I think Lynn found a good lunch place too.

In addition to the food the folks working there were very friendly and willing to answer questions and made sure we were enjoying the meal. Highly recommend them if you’re in the Cary area.

I’m an early riser as is most of my family so we decided to grab breakfast before I left. After mulling over the slim choices of open places at that time of the morning we decided on Biscuitville. It’s a cool little place where they are constantly making biscuits (shocker) but doing it at a station right out front by the counter. It’s surrounded by plexiglass to keep the cooties at bay but you can see the biscuits getting made by hand.

As I was perusing the menu my sister pointed out the limited time only Spam biscuits and that did it for me. I love me some fried Spam.

I got it with egg and cheese so it would be a balanced meal and carry me through the journey home to Seneca. It was tasty. After 3 good dining experiences and visiting with my sister and brother-in-law and catching a glimpse of my nephew I felt like I won the weekend. That was two in a row since I spent the prior one with friends and visiting my other sister and her family.

It’s Dal Good

So it’s Good Friday and I have the day off so I decided to find a place that would be blog worthy. I figured I’d also visit downtown Greenville, SC since I’ve only been through Greenville on I-85. With that criteria I did a little Googling and found Aryana Afghan Cuisine.

Forty five minutes later I was pulling into the little parking lot behind the restaurant. They have an interesting model. You can order one of 3 types of plates; regular, vegetarian or vegan. They have a constantly changing group of foods that they pick from to make your plate based on the selection. Once you order and pay at the register podium you grab a seat and they fix your plate from a buffet style station and bring it to your table.

One thing that was weird to me is that they have Coke products but not diet Coke or Coke Zero. That being the case I opted for their hot cardamom green tea to go with my “regular” plate. I’m actually kind of glad they didn’t have the soda because the tea was nice.

The regular plate comes with veggies, rice and two meat dishes. Also on the side some flat bread and chutney. I’ll say right now forgot about the chutney and have no idea what that tasted like. What I do know is the plate I got was great because there were got two things I had to ask about since I’d never had them.

It took me a second to separate the chicken from the dal visually since they are both orange. The chicken has the pepper and onion sitting on top. I really liked this meal. From right to left; a meat pie, flat bread, basmati rice, chicken pieces, dal, and borani banjan.

The meat pie was simply lightly spiced ground meat in a pastry shell, nice but nothing special. The rice was light, fragrant, and a great accompaniment to the spicier dishes. In this case I don’t mean hot spicy but laden with spices. The chicken was tender and had the flavor of tandoori chicken or it may have been just grilled kabob chicken with similar spices. Either way it was very tasty.

Now the two I’d not had before. The borani banjan is a stewed eggplant dish with yogurt and mint. I really enjoyed the flavor of this and could have handled a double size portion easily. My favorite of the whole plate though was the dal. When the plate was first presented I thought it must be some kind of carrot or yam mash then I saw what I thought were lentils. I kind of expected it to be sweet but it was earthy and savory with a tiny hint of sweetness. It was so flavorful I could have eaten a bowl of this stuff and been happy. Going forward if I see dal on a menu it’ll be on my plate.

The food is enough to get a nod of recommendation for that day’s selection but the fact that over half the people that came in after I did were known to the lady running the place speaks volumes as well. It wasn’t the cheapest and if you’re a picky eater options are low but if you are an adventurous eater go here.

I mentioned part of the reason I wanted to go to Greenville was to check out the downtown. Good Friday was not the day to try that. Between the people who had to work down there, the people who had the day off and had the same idea I did and some event going on it was way too peopley for me. I will go back another day to walk around and visit Falls Park.