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.

Just Graft No Corruption

Another DragonCon Edition

The Labor Day weekend and a few days before found me in Atlanta for DragonCon and visiting friends.  While at the con I stuck pretty much to known quantities and hit restaurants I’ve mentioned before in previous posts.  In some cases lunch is just a respite from the multitudes and the food is the same old, same old but I do want to mention two before I jump into the new place I visited.

Truva is a Turkish restaurant that I have been going to for years and I really enjoy the calm relaxing atmosphere, service and food.  I do try to sample something new each time and this time I had the Adana Kebab with an Efes beer.


I have to start by mentioning the warm bread that’s delivered with some olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette dipping sauce.  I love this bread and they are not stingy with it.  That and planning the rest of my days con schedule kept me busy until the adana kebab arrived.  As you can see from the photo it was a traditional ground meat, in this case lamb, formed and skewered kebab.  It was nicely spiced with red bell peppers, onions, a bit of red and black pepper plus other spices.  The salad was essentially shredded lettuce and no big deal but the grilled tomato and rice went nicely with the kebab.  The yogurt sauce also added a nice touch.  The Efes beer was a pilsner that didn’t have any special characteristics but was refreshing on the warm day.

The next place I wanted to mention again was the Pacific Rim Bistro where I got some nice sushi.

This is a busy joint during the con and they have seats around the sushi making station so you can see the chefs crafting it while you wait and it’s easy for a singleton to get seated.  You also get to meet new people who strike up random conversations about their trip from Michigan to Georgia and what their particular brands of geekdom are.  So what I’m saying is it’s a good place to get some lunch, R&R and make new friends.  I decided to let the professionals work for me and selected the Sushi Lunch Combo A.  This came with soup or cucumber salad, 5 pieces of nigiri sushi, 3 pieces of tuna roll, 4 pieces of California roll and Inari tofu (that’s the weird looking brown thing at the front of the sushi plate).  The cucumber salad was delivered first and I only got a few bites before the sushi was delivered so speed was something they did well.  The cucumbers were good and a nice change from the usual green salad offerings.  The sushi was fresh tasting and delicious and while it wasn’t spectacular it was a great variety and value in my opinion.  The Inari tofu was totally new to me and I didn’t have any idea what it was.  I lifted up the brown envelope looking thing and saw there was only rice under it so I figured it couldn’t be too dangerous.  The texture was a little odd, kind of rubbery, but the taste was ok.  It was a little sweet so it was appropriate I saved it until last and decided to dub it dessert.  Overall another good visit.

The last place I’m going to mention was actually the first restaurant I visited on my trip south.  As part of my DragonCon tradition I have the opportunity to share a great meal with my friend Sharon and she had scoped this place out ahead of time.  Graft Restaurant is a farm to table place in Grayson, GA.  It’s located in an old home and is loaded with heavy dark wood and a warm welcoming atmosphere.  The night we went was also a live music evening so we got a bit of a show as well.  Our server Kai (I’m guessing on that, I know it started with a K and rhymed with eye) was more than willing to go over the menu and explain what the evenings dishes were based on that days ingredients.  In the end I went with a couple of appetizers and Sharon got a salad with grilled chicken and I had a waiting beer and a meal beer.

The apps I opted for were the venison sliders and the twice cooked fries with cider vinegar aioli dipping sauce.  The venison sliders were cooked medium well and had some braised collards and a light tangy sauce all between a slightly sweet slider bun.  Very tasty.  It didn’t mention the sliders came with fries so I’d ordered the additional fries so there were a lot of taters on the table.  The aioli dipping sauce was very good bringing to mind a mash up of the vinegar the UK folks like with their chips and the mayo that the Dutch like with theirs.  Sharon reported the salad was good and the baby kale wasn’t bitter at all and the grilled chicken was great.  The beers I had were both from Akedemia Brewing in Athens, GA.  The dark one was the Hades’ Hounds Hunker Down Brown (any UGA fans will know why I had to have that one) and the other was Lemon Drop Blanc saison.  The brown ale was decent and had a nice malty taste with a bit of extra sweetness and the saison had a tart citrus flavor that was easy to sip as we chatted and listened to music (once they got the volume right and we could converse without yelling).

As I mentioned at the start Graft was a welcoming place and not only was Kai great but there was another woman walking around making sure everything was good and doing the needful.  And I don’t know if it was just us and the table next to us but when items got delivered it was a shared experience of “ooh what’s that?” & “that looks good” so there was a sense of camaraderie going on.  If you find yourself in the metropolitan Grayson area you should give them a try.