Tur Kitchen, Big Thumbs Up
So many restaurants these days have a similar menu – the ubiquitous Mediterranean cuisine as in influences from Italy, Greece and Spain. So I was delighted to find a new entry that focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean as well, including wine – Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, with their flavorful spices and different textures. Plus friends had told me the ambiance was very stylish, the service excellent and there’s an executive lunch special that’s a solid value. Off we went to Tur in Coral Gables, a place to which I know I’ll return many times.
The name TuR was inspired by a word for spice in Turkish, a tip off to its culinary influences.The emphasis is on the quality of the ingredients, and simplicity, eschewing rich sauces for flavorful herbs and spices.
The handsome décor features soaring ceilings, a soothing color palette of gray with accents of royal blue, and deft lighting that adds a warmth and sense of intimacy. Find a special design flair, with hanging lights made of elongated whisks framing the open kitchen across from a dramatic crystal chandelier, a wall of niches holding glass vessels filled with oversize fruits and vegetables and punctuated with books, and paintings on loan from the Nader Art Museum. Both indoor and covered outdoor seating are offered at tablecloths covered in finely starched white linen.
The menu is divided into five sections – share, pides, salads, mains and sides plus a dessert menu. The meal kicks off with the hot out of the oven addictive pide, a Turkish flat bread baked in a stone oven. It’s like a lighter version of pita that’s puffy and served with rich creamy unsalted butter, and another herbed and topped with Aleppo pepper.
For starters we had the cauliflower steak ($14) and the seared eggplant ($14). Indicative of the time intensive preparation of many of the dishes, the cauliflower is cooked using three different methods so it’s tender and yet a little crunchy, and the eggplant is bathed in a delicious San Marzano tomato sauce topped with feta cheese. Even non vegetable lovers would gobble them up.
Be sure to order a pide. It’s like a long, narrow boat of the pita- like bread that’s chewy, and in different versions, filled with everything from Taleggio cheese and speck charcuterie to shrimp and mascarpone and braised lamb and goat cheese. Though I also loved the lamb version, my favorite is the one with forest blend mushrooms, truffle cream, thyme and gorgonzola, sure to be one of the best dishes of 2020 ($15). It had a deep, rich flavor of earthy mushrooms and a nutty zip of the truffles. And they, as well as all of the dishes are artistically presented, often with edible flowers.
The appealing salad choice includes their take on a Caesar salad called the baby gem – baby romaine with fried slivers of prosciutto, quail egg, and gorgonzola sauce, all sprinkled with Sumac ($17). Once again, the chef shows his special talent with vegetables.
A signature dish is the lamb leg for two ($52). It is braised for six hours, infused with seven different spices, and so tender it melts in your mouth. Don’t expect lamb slices. This looks like a lamb roll, served with boston lettuce to make a wrap, pickles, shaved roots and house bread. I thoroughly enjoyed the lamb, though my favorite was the branzino, flown in fresh daily from Sardinia. It was moist on the inside with a crispy skin, drizzled with lemon oil, sprinkled with fennel pollen and served with roasted brussel sprouts and russet potato garnishes ($33). Even Mr W who isn’t a big fish eater gave it high marks.
Desserts were the chocolate nemesis, a chocolate tart with a chocolate cookie crust, crème fraiche ice and dollops of meringue on top, a must for chocolate lovers ($11), and the unique Kunafa ($12). It’s flaky phyllo dough filled with creamy ricotta cheese, rose water, and walnuts and pistachio on top, much better than the well known baklava dessert.
Tur Miami features a list of signature cocktails and an extensive and excellent wine list. A glass of wine (5-6 ounce pour) starts at $10 and bottles at $40. If you like red wine, check out the Lebanese red for a reasonable $50 a bottle. A three course executive lunch special is offered Monday through friday. Tur is open for lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday and late October will open Sunday as well. Parking is offered in an adjacent municipal garage.
Tur Miami, 259 Giralda Avenue, T.786-483-8014.