Metro Station: Daumesnil (Line 6, 8), Montgallet (Line 8)
Type of cuisine: Turkish
Days & hours of operation: Mon to Fri noon – 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. Sat 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
We have long wondered whether Paris had a good Turkish restaurant. Our recent experience at Le Janissaire proved that it does.
The restaurant is located off the tourist circuit in the distant 12th arrondissement. For enthusiasts of Turkish cuisine, we believe that the trip out there is well worth the effort, even if only to have lunch or dinner there.
The multiple dining rooms of this establishment are variously decorated with Oriental carpets on bare-wood floors; large, wood-framed mirrors; small, framed drawings of Turks in traditional costume; and Turkish coffee pots on walls. While we dined, a variety of music—which we rightly or wrongly identified as Turkish—played softly over the sound system. There was a constant coming and going of waiters who moved quickly and efficiently to serve customers. We noted that some diners came with small children, none of whom caused a ruckus. Late in the evening, as tables filled, the sounds of conversation grew quite loud.
We arrived without a reservation and were seated at the dark wood-paneled bar to wait for a table to clear. While there, I ordered an Efes, a blond Turkish beer with a slight flavor of anis. My partner inquired about the Yeni Raki, a Turkish apéritif, but declined when she learned that it was flavored with aniseed, She ordered a kir pêche (kir flavored with peach liqueur) instead.
Once seated at our table, we studied the menu and were pleased to see that the restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes. For the starter, I ordered Patlican Sarma, a generous portion of sheep’s cheese wrapped in strips of eggplant and served with garlic- and paprika-spiced yoghurt. This cold dish was filling and delicious.
My partner forwent the starter.
For the main course, we noted that on Friday and Saturday evenings, Tandir and Islim are served. I chose the Tandir—shoulder of lamb oven-cooked for eight hours. It arrived thinly sliced on a plate accompanied with a mound of crushed potato flavored with paprika and two endive halves. The savory lamb was fork-tender and succulent.
My partner ordered the Islim—lamb shank wrapped in sliced eggplant. It arrived so tender that the meat fell off the bone. Served atop a tomato-based coulis, it was accompanied by a thick, beefy slice of tomato, a wedge of green pepper, and a mound of paprika-spiced crushed potato. The portion of lamb was so copious that my partner could not finish it.
For our beverage accompaniment, we ordered a half-bottle of Yakut, a popular red wine from Turkey. Medium-bodied and slightly tannic, it had a pleasant red-fruit bouquet.
Round loaves of Turkish pide bread were continually served fresh from the oven. Just as we finished one loaf, another was placed on the table!
Kabak Tath was my choice for dessert. A seasonal treat, it was a large slice of pumpkin that had been preserved in sweet syrup. It was served with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachio nuts. Wonderful!
My partner’s dessert was also unusual. Called Künefe, it was an angel-hair pastry with a soft-cheese filling. Served in a ramekin with sugar syrup and topped with crushed pistachio, it was sublime!
The service was fast, friendly, and helpful.
The bill for two, including two before-dinner drinks (a beer and a kir pêche), one starter, two main courses, two desserts, and a half-bottle of wine, came to 79€.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.