I've been trying to break away from ordering my favorite menu items at restaurants I've previously visited, partially so I can make revisit posts here and partially to continue expanding my elitist foodie palate.
Aya Sofia remains my favorite Turkish restaurant in town with good reason. On my most recent visit with some Fair Isle sweater wearing friends, we got only things I'd never had before. Things kicked off with the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Borek[/symple_highlight], a spinach and feta cheese pie baked in filo dough. I was surprised when it was dropped off at the table - it didn't look like the filo dough hot pocket I've always associated with a borek. I did some quick Googling and found that what I'm familiar with are the Israeli bourekas. The Turkish variety is flavored more like a Greek spanakopita but composed like an Italian lasagna, with layers of cheese, spinach and filo.
I thought that it was a good dish, but probably wouldn't order it again in the future with some of the options available. None of the flavors are particularly assertive, plus I'm just not a huge fan of feta.
Our other starter was the - I would definitely order this again. The dip, served with a seemingly infinite amount of fresh pita bread, is a creamy yogurt blended with garlic, dill, mint and pecans. It's a simple meze with a tangy, fresh flavor that is a lot like tzatziki upgraded. The addition of the nuts is what sets it apart. If you're into dips, which you are, I recommend getting this, the Biber Ezme and their Saksuka.
I can't avoid red meat at Aya Sofia. There's something about the blend of lamb, beef and Turkish spices that sets me off into this primal, meat devouring state. My typical order is the Adana Kebab, a long spear of spicy, charred meat, but this time I decided to go with the Kofte. Heavily spiced lamb and beef meatballs, bursting with cumin, coriander, chili powder, are chargrilled and served with a cool yogurt sauce, rice, veggies, and by my request, their sumac & onion salad.
These meatballs are great. I have been debating since this meal if I actually like them more than the Adana kebab, and I think that answer is yes. Without the tastebud searing spice of the Adana, you can really appreciate the meat and the nuances of the other spices. My only complaint is that they aren't grilled on a sword.
We were all pretty damn stuffed by the time dessert came around, but we decided to persevere and try the Baklava. A lot of reviews online rave about it, but it didn't do anything for us, unfortunately. I find the Greek version with walnuts and honey to be a lot more enjoyable than the Turkish version with pistachios and sugar syrup - none of us have big sweet tooths, so the syrup was just too much sweetness.
Even with the baklava miss, I still love this place. If you're really hankering for a dessert and none of their options appeal to you, remember that it's just down the street from Ted Drewes...
6671 Chippewa St
St. Louis, MO 63109