The Sahara is the world’s largest desert, stretching almost the entire width of Northern Africa. Sahara is a Turkish restaurant in Gravesend, Brooklyn. I’m not sure how to reconcile those two facts. I’m also not sure how to reconcile the fact that the restaurant, despite it’s noisy interior and almost insistent family-friendliness, is pretty darned good. Not necessarily authentically Turkish, but good.
Consider, if you will, the house bread (pictured above), made fresh at an alarmingly fast rate in the open kitchen. Not flat like you might expect from a Mediterranean bread, but dense and puffy, served warm. Who cares it the yogurt sauce and the hot sauce are served in the same tiny plastic tubs you’d get at a take-out joint?
There’s also the house salad, similar to Israeli salad with chopped tomato and cucumber but with a side of some kind of dry cheese to sprinkle on top. The cheese really elevates it to another level, especially when paired with that bread.
Or take the hummus, which tastes more of chickpeas and less of tahini than most other hummus I’ve eaten (and again, pairs wonderfully with the bread).
The cold salad plate I got as an entree was more of a mixed bag. The stuffed grape leave was sweeter than other varieties I’ve eaten. The multiple eggplant salads ranged from a ho-hum version stewed with tomato to an overly smoky baba ganoush. The real surprise was the mix of chopped green olives with chopped up pickles and green peppers. There’s no reason the combination should work as well as it did, but it was my favorite thing on the plate.
The restaurant has continually expanded over the past few years, and currently it’s downright cavernous, not to mention cacophonous. On the Saturday I went there were no fewer than four other large parties (yes, I was with a large party myself — both times I’ve been has been with a party), each with kids running around. The atmosphere is not exactly relaxing, but it’s easy to overlook it when the food is so fresh and good.
Sahara — 2337 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn