Considering that Adam took over 130 pictures of London restaurants we ate at, it was only natural that we start chronicling our thoughts and opinions about the food we eat. We've totally become accidental foodies. It all started out when Sheila started calling Adam "the human trash compactor"; since he eats almost anything. But somewhere along the way we started having discussions about food and seeking out culinary adventures when on travel. We bring a unique perspective to this arena as we're both vegetarians (no meat, poultry, or fish). I suspect we will both have varying opinions on the food, and hope to not only have a record for posterity, but provide some fun, useful if not amateur insight.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Steller Mezes at Troya in Upper Fillmore

Troya Mediterranean Kitchen, serves up mouthwatering mezes from a light filled storefront on Upper Fillmore. It's a wonderful combination of Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian cuisine; and not a stretch to say it's the best we've had in the Bay Area. According to their website, Troya Fillmore brings a different, more modern approach to the Turkish-inspired Mediterranean kitchen, offering local and organic ingredients as often as possible. Over 4th of July weekend, with baby in tow, we met family there for an early dinner and were not disappointed. 

Troya's space in bright and modern, yet rustic; it almost feels like a SOMA loft space. Walls are painted white with accents of red brick. Mid-century light fixtures and Edison bulbs are neatly distributed above the cherry wood tables. Upon arrival, we were promptly seated at a large table across from the open bar space. Our only complaint about the space is that it gets noisy (not enough sound attenuation) and stuffy (not enough power on the ceiling fans). After perusing the menu for several minutes, we decided to order a bunch of sharing mezes for the table. Across the eight of us, we ordered 12 items, including dessert. For the purposes of this blog, I'll highlight the key eight. 

Hummus, Haydari, Muhammara with House Made Turkish Bread ($16) - Three dips of hummus (mashed chickpeas with tahini and olive oil), haydari (strained yogurt with garlic and mint) and muhammara (roasted red pepper with walnuts) served with warm airy leavened bread. Each dip has it's own distinct flavor - hummus was earthy and buttery smooth, haydari was fresh and citric, the muhammara was spicy and intense. My favorite was the muhammara paired with some haydari, the balance between the two was perfect, especially over the fluffy bread. 

Summer Watermelon Salad with fennel, feta and fresh mint ($9) - A bright flavorful appetizer portion salad of refreshing watermelon cubes, salty feta, and crunchy licorice-flavor fennel. I am generally not a fan of salads that include fruit, this one worked because it was the opposite - fruit paired with savory elements. Each ingredient had a purpose and the feta was not pungent or overpowering. All in all, a great pallet cleansing dish. 

Roasted eggplant salad with tomatoes, pine nuts and feta ($10) - Served warm, this dish was a pleasant surprise for me. The roasted and slightly charred eggplant was layered perfectly with juicy tomatoes, earthy pine nuts, and fresh feta. Combined as one, it was a perfect blend of the Mediterranean. My only feedback was to cut the eggplant thinner, so that each bite has equal balance. 

Crispy Brussel Sprouts with aleppo aioli ($9) - We liked the concept of the dish and the aioli, but the sprouts were inconsistent with some sprouts soggy and some over crisp. The aioli by itself had a nice kick but was a bit too eggy for my taste. From a great stable of mezes, this was a miss in our books. 

Grilled Halloumi Cheese with fresh figs almonds and grapes ($11) - We're aficionados of this Cyprus cheese having tasted in at many establishments throughout London. Troya does halloumi justice, each cube covered in Turkish spices was perfectly grilled and topped a fresh sweet fig jam - a really nice savory sweet dish. We were surprised at how large the portion was especially each halloumi cube. All of us end up cutting them in half. That being said, it's a staple we'll order again. 

Wild arugula salad with avocado, walnuts, and farmers cheese  ($9) - Another palate cleansing dish for the table. The bitter arugula was complemented by the buttery avocado, while the walnuts added a much needed crunch. There was lemon vinaigrette drizzled on top which added a hint of tartness. 

Pesto, Tomato, and Farmers Cheese Flatbread ($12) - This was a throw in dish, not needed given the amount of food we had ordered. There was nothing memorable about it, but you could definite taste the fresh ingredients. The pesto was a bit under-seasoned and the dish could have used some salt. That being said, I can't really turn down pizza, so needless to say it was finished. 

Turkish Coffee Chocolate Pot de Creme with house-made whipped cream ($8) - A dense, bittersweet chocolate pudding served cold. On first bite everyone felt the same way, too rich, too thick, too chocolately. Over time, we were able to taste the depthness and balance of flavors. There was only a hint of coffee and this flavor was certainly masked by the chocolate. However as a dessert it was too large and we left at least 1/4 of it uneaten. 

Baklava hand rolled with walnuts and pistachios, served with ice cream ($8) - A really solid dessert with thin phylo layers, crushed walnuts and pistachios, and drizzled honey. It was not overly sweet either which was good thing given the nice portion of vanilla ice cream that accompanied the two pieces of baklava. Troya's baklava had a great texture as the phylo was slightly crumbly and crispy. We would definitely order this again. 

Troya has a wonderful stable of well balanced mezes that are great to share with large groups. When ordering I would focus in on the truly authentic Turkish dishes rather than those that have Italian influence. We will definitely go back and give Troya a strong 8 out of 10.