Peri Ela’s UES Turkish Cuisine

The Upper East Side. Not my usual stomping grounds, but for a chance to see Nigella Lawson speak at the 92nd St. Y, I will pay a ridiculously high cab fare and go to a neighborhood where the average age is 74, the drugstores close at 8 pm, and the food scene is usually bleak.
Usually.
Peri Ela is a tiny Turkish restaurant that you just know hasn’t been redecorated in about 30 years. Part grandma’s house with lace curtains and wooden tables, part 80’s nightclub with a full bar and overblown pictures of models, it feels quaint, odd, and anything but corporate. Add that to the somewhat confused hostess and waitstaff, and I somehow knew….I was in for a terrific meal.

Cacik

Smooth yogurt, crisp cucumber and just a touch of dill. Looser than tzatziki, and less garlicky. Not really tangy, more cooling. Simple and tasty.

Hummus

Creamy but with texture, hearty and nutty with tahini. Once again, the lack of garlic was apparent in a good way. It let the more subtle, gentle flavors of the chickpeas and tart lemon shine through.

Fried Vegetables with Yogurt Sauce

Thin slices of eggplant, zucchini, and carrots, shallow sauteed and served with an incredibly creamy, tangy yogurt sauce that had the pucker of lemon but the richness of cream. The zucchini was tender and sweet, the carrots were vibrant with just a bit of bite, and the eggplant was the star of the night. The eggplant pieces tasted confited because they were so creamy, soft enough to be eaten with a spoon, with crisp, caramelized edges. It was so sweet and meaty next to the tangy yogurt sauce. This dish was outstanding in every way. 

Manti

These Turkish ravioli are one of my favorite dishes of all times, and this was a very good representation. Thin skinned dumpling skin surrounded tiny parcels of spiced beef, all in yet another yogurt sauce – this time, very mild next to the tart, acidic tomato sauce with it. The beef was aromatic with cinnamon and coriander, and the dumplings, no bigger than the pad of my index finger, were simultaneously filling but light. Truly a pleasure. 

This whole meal was a winner. Though the service was a bit scatterbrained, it was prompt and very sweet. The prices here are moderate, the portions are large, and the food is wonderful. It’s almost enough to make me come to the Upper East Side just for dinner. 
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Peri Ela on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    I spent a week in that part of town a few years back. There was a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant, but other than that, the offerings reminded me of Pasadena: staid, not bad, just kind of average food at twice the price that it should be.

  2. kim says:

    I've often passed by this nonchalant restaurant, but felt a bit 'exclusive' from the exterior. I love Turkish food and now I really want to dine there. :)

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-oooh, what was the name of the Ethiopian restaurant??
    @Kim-yes, please do!

  4. JustinM says:

    Ethiopian restaurant.

    I'm not kidding. It was on York but I think last time I looked it up it was closed.

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