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Feast: Brookline Family Restaurant

July 25, 2010

brookline family restaurant


I love a good ethnic hole in the wall. A nice little dive that not everyone knows about. I like to ask the waiter or waitress what their favorite dish is (because sometimes I don’t know how to pronounce -or maybe read- the words on the menu), and just order whatever they like. The waitstaff- often the daughter, cousin, or grandson of the owner- treat you like you’re eating in their own home (sometimes you are), and they never pick the most expensive thing on the menu when you ask for recommendations. They choose something delicious, understated, and relatively hidden on the menu. At one restaurant the waitress encouraged me to get the chicken soup- why not? It was amazing. At another spot, the must-have was a smoothie with exotic fruits. At Brookline Family Restaurant, the lovely staff will not only give you excellent recommendations but freely offer to exchange your dish if you don’t like it- what’s not to love? 

Brookline Family Restaurant specializes in Turkish food, and  is located on Washington Street in Brookline. However,  if FoSB (Friend of SB- in this case, Mike) hadn’t known about it, I never would have seen it. The place feels a little like a neighborhood mom’s kitchen and a little like a cafeteria, but primarily it just feels comfortable. The extensive menu, boasting certified Halal food, also includes a lengthy supplement of specials, which we were only too happy to try. 

Like any good kitchen, the table was never empty. From the minute we sat down a plate of grilled bread and a bowl of marinated beans and vegetables was at our disposal.  I’m not a fan of mindless munching on the extras many restaurants can give you (pass on the basket of bread at cheesecake factory, for example- for that matter, pass on the whole chain), but in this kind of place everything that hits the plate is worth it. 

FoSB Mike swore up and down that the grape leaves he’s had on multiple occasions are amazing, yet didn’t end up ordering any. Hmm. No matter, the lahmacun- turkish pizza topped with lamb and spices- was flavorful but not too heavy. The crust was a light, thin dough and the lamb mixture was spread lightly on top. Like seemingly everything on the menu, it was accompanied by several slices of fresh, ripe tomatoes. 

The Shepard’s Salad- tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta with parsley, lemon, and olive oil, was the kind of dish that is literally just a bunch of really great ingredients thrown in a bowl. But I have nothing against a bunch of great ingredients thrown in a bowl, and in fact wish I could eat this salad every day for lunch. 

For entrees I ordered a special, the Manti- turkish ravioli served with garlic yogurt (pictured up top). The dish was just that- small pasta shapes filled with ground lamb, served in a tomato based sauce. The yogurt came on the side, and the flavor was very strong- tangy from the dairy, a hefty bite from raw garlic. On its own it would have been too overpowering, but the coolness of the yogurt was a good complement to the spicy lamb. 

FoSB had another special, hell if I can remember what it was called. I know it had something to do with lamb, and probably some veg, and there was sauce involved (see picture). I know I wanted him to order the stuffed peppers and he agreed and then changed his mind, but I can’t blame him since the cute Turkish waitress convinced him this special would be delicious, and it was. Those ladies at Brookline Family Restaurant know what they are talking about, and are in fact so sweet that one woman- who wasn’t even our waitress- came over to our table because she noticed me rubbing my eyes and wondered if I was ok. 

Thank you sweet lady, for asking about my eyes. They are fine, just a little dry from all this air conditioning lately. And thank you Brookline Family Restaurant for a lovely, tasty meal. And thank you FoSB for dinner.

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