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April 2003

Turkish Delights

Forget sticky and sweet-Turkish food is varied and delicious

Pestalozzistrasse 32
Tel. (089) 26 01 83 84
Open Mon.– Fri. 12:15 pm–3:30 pm
and 6 pm–1 am; Sat. and Sun. 6 pm–1 am

Stroll along Pestalozzistrasse in the evening and the warm light that washes out onto the small square in front of Myra will draw you into the restaurant. Exposed brick walls along the back of the dining room and behind the bar lend the place charm and a touch of style. Tables are well spaced and the low—but not excessively dark—lighting creates a relaxing atmosphere. First-course options include a daily soup special, salads and a selection of warm and cold appetizers. The Kabak Kizartma (zucchini with yogurt sauce; € 5.40) is a succulent starter, but thickly sliced eggplant served the same way is undercooked and its rubbery texture reminds you that this vegetable is difficult to cook well. The menu features more than a dozen main courses, with grilled lamb, chicken and seafood dominating. If you’d like to taste a little of everything, the assorted grill platter (€ 14.90) is a good choice. Daily specials may include baked chicken breast in a mushroom sauce with rice and vegetables (€ 10.90) or the unusual-sounding avocado filled with veal and vegetables (€ 12.50). The Patlican Börek (€ 10.90), layers of potato, eggplant (in this case, thoroughly cooked) and carrots in a bechamel sauce with melted cheese, is one of two vegetarian choices. All main courses are served with a small mixed salad. Creamy Turkish rice pudding (€ 4.50) makes for a delightful conclusion to the meal, but if you have enough room left after dinner, the assorted dessert plate (€ 5.80) is an even better choice. It features a sampling of honey-soaked baklava, sesame halva (Helva) and luscious caramelized walnut mousse. Although second courses often arrive before salads and appetizers have been finished, or before the empty plates have been cleared away, service is on the whole amicable and professional. Myra’s wait staff is approachable and attentive, something rarely found in Munich restaurants. That alone is reason enough to overlook any minor shortcomings.
Food 7, Service 8, Atmosphere 8

Merhaba Taverne
Pariserstrasse 9
Tel. (089) 448 70 67
Open daily 5 pm–1 am
The true herald of spring in the city is the presence of tables lined up outside restaurants, cafés and, of course, beer gardens. So a place that manages to draw a crowd despite the absence of outdoor dining is worthy of attention. Merhaba Taverne is such a place. Situated in Haidhausen on Pariserstrasse, a short walk from Rosenheimerplatz, this small restaurant offers a casual setting, where vibrant paintings offset the neutral tones of the interior. While the décor may otherwise be described as spare, and the service as friendly but not flawless, it quickly becomes clear that Merhaba has chosen to focus on other things: namely, well-prepared Turkish food. The selection of cold appetizers is long and, because it can be difficult to choose among the offerings, the mixed plate (€ 5.10 [small]/€ 9 [large]) is advisable. Tarama (a rich creamy roe dip), Havuç Ezmesi (carrots in garlic and yogurt) and spicy Acili Ezme (tomatoes, pepper and onion) add color and zest alongside the familiar—but equally good—hummus, babaganush and stuffed grape leaves. And the thick, warm flatbread that accompanies the starters is excellent. Lamb dishes, such as grilled kebabs (€ 10), Fasulye Güveç (green beans and lamb; € 10.50) and ground lamb baked with spinach and cheese (€ 10.50), make up the majority of main courses, but chicken and seafood choices are also available. Vegetarians will be thrilled to find more than the standard vegetable casserole on the menu. Mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese, served with a side portion of broccoli (€ 10) and sheep’s cheese dumplings with mixed vegetables (€ 9.50) are just two of the tempting offerings. Most main courses are served with rice and yogurt. A small selection of good Turkish wines is also available. For dessert, try the yogurt with honey (€ 3.80). It may sound plain, but is in fact an experience in pure decadence: a mound of rich, creamy Turkish yogurt filled in the center with honey and garnished with walnuts. Once you’ve tried it, you’re likely to become hooked.
Food 8, Service 7, Atmosphere 7

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