While Cary may trail behind Raleigh and Durham in terms of population, it certainly does a fine job in the area of interesting, flavorful ethnic restaurants. Some of my hidden gem faves (Kababish Cafe-Pakistani, Bosphorus-Turkish, Super Wok-Szechuan) are all in Cary! So I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear about a great little restaurant online, Istanbul. Located on Kildaire Farm Roads, it’s 4 1/2 star rating caught my eye so I decide to make a special effort to get out for a tasty lunch visit.
Istanbul Restaurant is located on the far northern side of Kildaire Farms in what looks like a converted fast food place. This location has gone through several iterations of Mediterranean type restaurants over the years so let’s see how Istanbul Restaurant fares! Inside, the space it clean, tidy but a bit bare so don’t expect too much in the way of ambiance. A large laminated menu is brought to the table and it’s a bi-fold covering a good array of appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts. Pretty much everything at Istanbul Restaurant is between $4 and $15 making it a pretty inexpensive meal. And thankfully, there are pictures on the menu since I’m not entirely familiar with Turkish cuisine. I go with the borek for an appetizer along with a izgara kefte (meatball) main.
Istanbul Restaurant starts you off with some lovely Turkish bread (seeded) along with a flavorful oil punched up with chopped olives and spices. A simple but great way to get your meal going! My borek come out next and I have never tried these bad-boys before. We’re talking about a long, fried pastry (similar to an egg roll) filled with feta cheese and parsley. Served with a cool yogurt sauce, the borek are both a bit decadent and healthy at the same time!
It doesn’t take much longer for my main to come out of the kitchen, the kefte (meatball) plate. Made of a mix of beef and lamb, the meatballs nicely seared and oblong in shape. Accompanied by some grilled pepper-tomato, spiced onion, pita bread, bulgur wheat and a simple salad. This plate strikes me as remarkably healthy and typical of a Mediterranean setting. The meatballs are tender and nicely charred on the outside. While I’m not a huge fan of lamb, I like this blend where the lamb just gives the meat some extra flavor. The bulgur rice reminds me of a more toothsome rice pilaf and it looks as if it’s been prepared with some tomato for tang. And the rest of the plate (salad, grilled tomatoes, onion) is a nice accompaniment to the proteins in this meal, delish!
And while the restaurant was pretty empty, service was very personable and pleasant. You can definitely tell you’re in a family-run restaurant at Istanbul. I left happy and full after this healthy meal! But I have to admit that Istanbul Restaurant is still behind my other Turkish favorite, Bosphorus Cafe. Because while it certainly does home-spun Turkish eats well, it’s a bit more spartan and spare compared to its neighbor down the street. But if you’re in the mood for healthy Turkish eats, I certainly think you’ll have a pleasant and delightful meal here at Istanbul Restaurant…
914 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511