The experience

Tonight, Dr. Mom would be working and some good friends were up from Austin for New Years.  They had made plans to go to Cafe Izmir at 8PM.  I figured I would try to make it but wasn’t sure how Benji would do. We tossed around some ideas and decided I would take Mina and leave Benji with Lala and Lolo until later. I went with Grace to get some Asian food before her shift so she wouldn’t have to eat alone.  Hopefully that would buy me some brownie points though I probably just made up for the fact she didn’t get to eat at Izmir.  In any case, I volunteered to be the chauffeur to the restaurant for everyone, so after tidying up the car (which took me far too long) I finally arrived to pick up everyone and we were off.

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One the drive down, one of the toys I had thrown in the back while cleaning decided it would start talking. And it kept talking.  We finally figured out what it was and joked that it sounded like Chucky from Child’s Play.  We noticed a large crowd on Lower Greenville this evening so opted to pay for valet parking.  The host told us it would be a bit because they were behind which isn’t out of the ordinary for the place.  Most people take a very long time to eat here.

We went outside to wait when another staff member came out to offer us a table in Kismet next door. Sounded like a plan so we took him up on the offer.  We followed him into Kismet which is a lounge next door where they had some additional tables set for diners from Izmir.  They had a live DJ and some nice lighting.  It was a pretty festive atmosphere which I think Mina enjoyed though she skipped on the dancing this evening.

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Our waiter arrived and we ordered some drinks.  Mina was busy playing her Nintendo DS and we forgot to order her a drink.  The waiter was kind enough to bring her a Shirley Temple.  At first she refused to drink it even though I told her it was just Sprite with cherry syrup.  We’ve always told her the marchiano cherries are nasty and there were a couple in the drink so I think that scared her off.  I had to bribe her for one dollar to try it.  After which, she went through two of the drinks.

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We decided on the various tapas we would order for round two and had some lively conversation while we waited on our food.  Mina was busy having fun with Dipesh who got first place for the most fun this evening.  Satyen got second place.  I guess everyone else gets honorable mention.  I probably didn’t make the finals.  She did later mention Alex who helped her with her Barbie fashion show though, too.  Mina is fickle.

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Our first bottle of wine came out and Mina got the little plastic bull from the bottle which she enjoyed.  She requested that we give her 4 more.  Not sure we’d make it that far but Mina turned her little fairy figure form her birthday cake into a cow herder for the moment.

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Soon our first round of food came and then it rapidly disappeared just as reinforcements arrived.  The pace of the food was good.  As we round up the initial order, we got word Kenley would be joining us as well.  So we waited a few minutes until he arrived to order another round of food.

We had a little mishap with 3 orders of hummus and one order of bread instead of vice versa but they were all eaten anyhow.  We decided on dessert and coffee and also on the fact that Mina would have to make do with four bulls.  The  last of our meal arrived and we wrapped it up to head home before it got too late.  I called to pick up Benji but he was already asleep so I’ll have to get him in the AM.

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The food

DSC00277Izmir has excellent food.  Their hummus is outstanding.  The best I have ever had and the only Grace has ever had that she likes.  Their pita is soft and warm and there olives are pungent and tasty.  We also ordered Lamb Rolls, Piroshki, Beef Kabobs, Saffron Rice, Chicken Kabob, and Portabello Mushrooms.

DSC00278All the meats are fantastic.  Perfectly grilled and juicy.  The chicken was for Mina and she ate quite a bit. The lamb was so good I didn’t get any the first round.  The lamb and beef are ground and formed into chunks and grilled.  The beef kabob came with a cucumber yogurt sauce.  The piroshki comes in a fried wrapper filled with spices and ground beef.  It comes with an excellent spicy red sauce for dipping.

The saffron rice is a must.  Very fluffy with a strong saffron flavor.  It is an excellent compliment to all the dishes.

The portabello mushrooms have an exotic flavor that no one can quite place.  A little balsamic, maybe some five spice; grilled and juicy.  Outstanding.

We also went for a couple of desserts tonight which is a first for me her.  We went for the creme brulee and the pound cake with strawberries and ice cream.  Both were very good though more strawberries would have been nice on the short cake.  Mina may have gotten to those before I had a chance to see how many there actually were.

Three of us finished up with Turkish Coffee which is excellent.  Thick and sweet with no bitterness.  I don’t know how they do it.  Well, sort of I do (see below).

The service

The service here is hit or miss due to the crazy crowds.  This place really packs them in and service can suffer at times.  There have been times where we gave up on our reserved table and ate something in the bar area instead because we had to wait so long.  Tonight was above average.  The host offered us immediate seating in Kismet next door and the waiter was quick to take our drinks order.  The manager and other staff checked on us frequently.  There was some less attentive moments as the meal wound down because the place was starting to get crowded, but altogether good service.

The kids

So I’ll have to call this not a kid friendly restaurant though we’ve brought Mina here several times without incident so probably give them a kid accommodating rating.  And tonight, it was nice that our waiter thought to bring Mina a Shirley Temple without me asking. Thoughtful. Although we like to complain about her slow eating and like of vegetables in her diet she is a very well behaved diner. Benji would not have done well this evening. If you can rely on your child’s dining skills or your sans children, give this place a shot. Especially on Tuesday.

Total Cost: $192.67 (4 bottles of wine and 5 adults)

The rest

So I got the recipe from one of the family members who own Cafe Izmir and Izmir Deli on just how they make the coffee.  He claimed it was just milk and coffee.  I can’t recall the exact proportions but I failed miserably numerous times before giving up on trying.  The Patels tried several times as well.  None of us ever figured out how they made it so sweet and creamy.  And the even do it on a cheap small side burner at the deli.

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