CHEF CHRISTIAN BRINGS STUNNING NEW
FLAVORS TO THE TABLE
It is rare that food is so well plated, so beautifully presented, that you feel like you are disturbing a work of art when you start to eat. But that is part of what makes dining at TUR Kitchen an experience, as well as a meal. The cuisine of Chef Christian Chirino is simply lovely to look at.
TUR describes itself as a bastion of Mediterranean food, but that reference hardly does it credit. As for its regional identity, it is far more than oil, bread, and pasta; in fact, there is no pasta here, or anything else from the Western end of the Mediterranean (Italy, France, Spain). This is Eastern Mediterranean, with dishes inspired by the Greek highlands, or Turkey, or Lebanon – meats and fruits and mashed chickpeas, with just enough seafood to keep it coastal. And what Chef Christian does with that regional palate is as artful as how the food is displayed.
One of the signature sharing dishes at TUR is their pides, long thin loaves of Turkish flat bread filled with ingredients like mushrooms, shrimp or cheese. We tried the braised lamb pide, which combined roast lamb with cremini mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese and curry oil. An amazing combination of flavors.
The menu at TUR reflects both seasons and locales. We tried two appetizers, both based on region and freshness. The first was anginares, grilled artichoke with tzatziki (Greek yogurt with cucumber, olive oil, and lemon) dusted with chili powder. Great balance of textures, cool and tart. The second was even better: sauteed squid with
medjool dates, chorizo, grapefruit, cilantro and finally a very Middle Eastern sumac spice. A kaleidoscope of complex tastes creating a new savory experience.
Christian keeps it up with his entrees, which include two succulent lamb dishes. The showstopper is the braised goat, with gnocchi, sundried tomatoes, artichoke, and basil mingling with the soft, stewed meat. A dish you won’t find anywhere else, worth the price of admission alone. The grilled sea bream on its bed of garbanzo puree, with lemon, leeks and fennel topped by red piquillo sauce, is another lovely dish. Utterly fresh and moist, with a delicate crispiness to the skin. And kudos for his entrée ode to vegans: Organic mushrooms, on the same garbanzo bed, with preserved lemon, Aleppo (Syrian) chili and a slide slash of black garlic paste.
The establishment itself feels open and light, with soaring ceilings and raw surfaces in muted tones of grey to accompany the hanging light fixtures. One wall is a glass wine rack (with some nice Greek vintages) that creates another intimate dining space. On another wall is an ultimate shadow box filled with vases, jars of citrus fruit,and dried plant arrangements. Two large screens silently show scenes of the Mediterranean taken by a drone. Calming, really. The kitchen is open to the main dining area, which adds its own sense of warmth and engagement. And, as the weather starts to cool, you can sit outside under the arches in a loggia that lines two sides of the building.
The loggia is also perfect for cocktails. Their signature drinks aim to parallel the Mediterranean cuisine (“Moroccan Nectar,” “Summer in Pompei”), and they are right on trend with a trio of mocktails. We tried the Mediterranean Flower, with non-alcoholic Ghia Apertif, grapefruit, rose water, and sumac. Like TUR, unusual,
compelling and refreshing.
Overall, the food at Tur is both rich and light. That theme carries on with the favorite dessert mille feuille, a raft of flaky dough laced with whipped cream and topped with strawberries that feeds two or three. But it feels almost too French. To stay in the Eastern Med, you can pick Christian’s “kunafa,” a traditional Arabic dessert made with filo pastry soaked in syrup and layered with cheese and pistachios. Theirs is stuffed with a creamy mix of ricotta, buratta and other cheeses, and finished with rose water. Think baklava meets canoli, only better; theirs won MiamiCurated’s best dessert in Miami this past year.