Originally an antique store, Turks & Frogs was converted into a wine bar by its owner, Osman Cakir, in 2004. Little of its sense of history was lost in the process, as the location now not only offers Middle Eastern appetizers and an impressive wine list, but continues to sell antique pots and lanterns, which line the walls and behind the bar.
But while its décor may be hundreds of years old, Turks & Frogs remains a hip hangout for West Villagers.
Offering a selection of small (and not-so-small) plates, the bar’s appetizer platter offers plenty to satisfy anyone with a craving for cool Middle Eastern delights, including hummus, smoked eggplant and lebni. The hard part is deciding what to dip your pita bread in next. The grape-leaf wrapped dolmas were a particular favorite of mine, with their incredibly fresh and refreshing taste.
If the lebni doesn’t offer enough cheese, it’s well worth ordering one of Turks & Frogs’ cheese plates, which include feta, manchego and mahon, as well as a range of fruits. Though it offered its surprises as well: I had to ask the friendly server what was the clear, honey-like liquid that accompanied the milder cheeses so well. It turned out to be fig jam, imported directly from Turkey.
But the best complement to all of the bar’s offerings was a glass of wine of their extensive list. Offering more than 100 selections, with many available by the glass as well as the bottle, there were plenty of options. My date opted for a mellow cabernet savignon while I went for the robust malbec blend from Mendoza.
Feeling full and slightly tipsy, we finished our light meal with the house’s special dessert: Turkish coffee crème brulee. It was a delicious as it sounds, creamy and rich. But not one to turn down a fine cup of java when I have the opportunity, I finished off the meal with a sweet and intense shot of Turkish coffee.
Though I didn’t have the money to pick up one of their 18th-century ceramic pots as a souvenir, the memory of that last sip of rich coffee will not soon be forgotten.
Turks & Frogs
323 West 11th Street
New York, NY 10014