dining

Beavercreek’s Pasha Grill surprises with authentic touches of Istanbul

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Small Appetizer Platter at Beavercreek’s Pasha Grill; photos: Paula Johnson

I am not the biggest fan of shopping centers, but occasionally retail calls, so off to The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek it was. PIP (Palate In Progress) and I were well into an argument about the importance of dress pants. (He was unconvinced of their necessity. My position is sweatpants are not all occasion wear.) We concurred that the discussion would be best continued over dinner. It’s against the food critic’s code to eat at a chain restaurant, so possibilities dwindle in a place like The Greene. Having traveled to Turkey, I was more than happy that Pasha Grill was one of the options for us to parlons about pants while sampling some of my favorite tastes. The Greene is not the Istanbul Bazaar, but Pasha Grill comes reasonably close to what you might find there with the dishes they offer, the ambiance of the dining space, and authentic touches like a delicate glass cup for tea.

My Cup of Tea

The interior dining area of the restaurant evokes what you might see in Istanbul with graceful arches, tile floors, crisp white tablecloths, and lovely chandeliers casting an inviting glow. We were seated in a cozy alcove area and greeted immediately by our server. PIP wanted to warm up with hot tea, and I had the same idea with wine. The Kavaklidere Yakut, a medium bodied slightly spicy red priced at $8.00 per glass was surprisingly good. PIP’s tea brought me back to my travels. It was nicely tannic in flavor, served in a small glass cup.

Ezme-zing!

After a few questions, we selected an appetizer. Our server recommended the Small Appetizer Platter ($17.95) to better accommodate our desire to try a range of things. Our platter included Tzatziki, Ezme, Pilaki, Tabuli, Stuffed Grape Leaves, and Fried Eggplant with tomato sauce, served with wedges of fluffy pita. A platter is the best way to try a range of dishes, and I could easily be satisfied to make a meal of the platter alone. The Pilaki, a pinto bean salad made with carrots, roasted sliced garlic, diced potatoes, and tomatoes, plus seasoned with a light olive oil and tomato sauce, was the least assertive flavor-wise—a little bland, perhaps, but a foil to the star of the platter, the Ezme. PIP and I both agreed this mix of finely chopped tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers mixed in olive oil and herbs was our favorite. So much flavor and more than a little heat, it’s the perfect condiment to scoop up with the pita if the heat is too intense. Most everyone is familiar with hummus and baba ghanouj (ghanoush), but I would urge a step away from those options, delicious as they are, and give Ezme a try. Close second for me had to be the Eggplant, cubes of lightly fried eggplant combined with fresh red and green peppers, onions, and garlic in tomato sauce. The rich, creamy Cacik, more familiarly known as Tzatziki worked well to counter the spice levels of these two offerings. Pasha’s Grape Leaves included currants and spices, done a little differently than the versions made in Greece and other Middle Eastern countries. A lot of Turkish dishes cross over to other neighboring cultures, each with unique local flavors and preparations. Fresh tasting Tabuli rounded out the festive plate. We were off to a great start.

Keb-options

Shish Kebab is perhaps the best known of any Turkish dish. PIP was thinking chicken, though lamb and beef are also available, as is Doner Kebab, gyro-style shaved meat grilled traditionally on a vertical spit. Torn between the standard hand-cut chunks of chicken or the less familiar Adana Kebab, seasoned ground chicken flavored with garlic and red bell pepper, our server suggested a combination of the two ($17.95). Though both preparations were similar in flavor profile with the same herbs, spices, and garlic used in the marinade, as well as both being flame grilled, each did have its own distinct taste and texture. (I would recommend trying a combination shish kebab choosing lamb or beef for one of the preparations and chicken for the other.) A tangy yogurt came on the side to dip, as well as rice, seasoned grilled onions and carrots, and broccoli. The broccoli was fine, but an unnecessary uninspired afterthought, with no particular seasoning or sauce. I would have left it off and added more of the onion and carrots, adding in peppers and tomatoes.

The same broccoli also made an appearance on my plate of stuffed cabbage, known as Lahana Sarma ($15.95). Described as cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, ground lamb, and beef topped with fresh tomato sauce and yogurt, our server declared it his favorite dish. Absent of the extraneous broccoli, I found this dish to be plentiful and satisfying, though the cabbage leaves were mushier than they should have been.

Our experience at Pasha Grill was a good one, and I would happily return for the Ezme alone. “I wonder what kind of pants a pasha would wear?” mused PIP as we left, still without dress pants, but well fed and happy.

Pasha Grill is located at The Greene, 72 Plum St. in Beavercreek. For more information, please call 937.429.9000 or visit PashaGrill.com.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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