It has been a long time since I have been to Café Istanbul at Easton. The place is under different management than the last time I was here. The menu is different. The interior is the only thing that has remained the same. I have to admit that I like the changes (not that there really was much wrong with the restaurant in its old form--I'm just a sucker for new things).
The new menu features a wider variety of traditional dishes outside of the realm of the typical hummus, falafel and baba options. There is a huge assortment of vegetarian items, including ezme, a tomato, onion, hot pepper and olive oil spread that makes the soft, doughy bread even more addictive. The Sigara Börek is a Turkish take on the Greek tiropita, made with an abundance of feta cheese, herbs and flaky phyllo dough. The grape leaves are also vegetarian (Items on the menu are marked with an asterisk to denote vegetarian selections).
Other vegetarian starters include hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, tabouli, and a host of other dips, salads and assorted vegetable items. I really applaud the number of healthy vegetarian starters (and I am a sucker for menus that label vegetarian items because they make my job that much easier).
My entree was a vegetable stew called türlü. It is a tomato base made with big chunks of roasted eggplant, onions, carrots, red peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, celery and whole garlic cloves. It is rustic and flavorful. Other vegetarian main courses include a grilled veggie plate and okra stew.
The bread is served with a spicy flavored olive oil. The mixed drinks are creative and tasty. I really like Efes Dark, a brown Turkish beer that tastes vaguely like Newcastle. The service is attentive, friendly and prompt. Café Istanbul is a great option for vegetarians as well as people looking for flavorful food with a healthful character.