After a week of gray, cloudy days, the sun finally came out in the form of lunch with a dear friend. Blue skies led us to Istanblue in Saratoga Springs for lunch and some friendly conversation.
The restaurant serves Mediterranean and Turkish food and was high on my list of new places to eat. It is tucked in the back of the CVS plaza on Congress Street.
Our smiling server seated us quickly in a nearly empty restaurant on a single-digit-cold early afternoon. The bright, sunny restaurant made good use of what was once a busy Friendly’s fast-food establishment.
The interior has been completely redone with warm wood and tile walls, stylish lighting fixtures and black high-back chairs. With the bright blue napkins in our laps and glasses of steaming tea that appeared instantly, we looked at our menus.
The lunch specials ($8.99) include sandwiches prepared with homemade bread, pita or a wrap, or platters served with rice and salad. Wanting more than a sandwich to warm our chilled bones, both my companion and I opted for platters, hers with falafel, mine with adana.
platters of choice
Istanblue Mediterranean Cuisine
WHERE: 68 Congress St. (CVS Plaza), Saratoga Springs. 581-0181 www.istanbluemediterranean.com
WHEN: 11 a.m.–11 p.m.daily
HOW MUCH: $36.34
MORE INFO: Credit cards accepted, ample plaza parking
The platters, plated simply but elegantly on square, white dishes, arrived, each accompanied by a small cup of sauce for dipping or drizzling. A fresh salad of mixed baby greens was dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
The falafel — fried chick pea patties — were perfectly cooked: a satisfying crunch on the outside but warm and savory on the inside. The side of tahini sauce (made from ground sesame seeds) made a perfect pairing.
My adana platter, also with rice and salad, was savory and satisfying. Served with a cooling cucumber and yogurt raita sauce, the grilled ground lamb was well-seasoned and placed on a bed of fluffy white rice mixed with some whole chickpeas for flavor.
The portions were perfect for lunch — enough food to satisfy your hunger, but not so much to weigh you down for the rest of the afternoon (or saddle you with a doggie bag that you will forget in your office fridge).
I had heard that the baklava ($6) was not to be missed, so we lingered over more hot tea and this classic Middle Eastern dessert. At Istanblue, the layered filo dough was less crispy and not as honey-sweet as I was used to. The four small squares of pastry were soft, and soaked with a lighter syrup and crunchy with lots of chopped pistachios.
A sweet, light touch to end a delicious, satisfying, well-served lunch.
Lunch for two, including tea and dessert was $36.34.