It's still early for Istanbul Grill (2505 Professor Ave., 216-298-4450, grillistanbul.com), a new Turkish restaurant in Tremont. The eatery is so new, in fact, that the liquor license just arrived, cold beer has not, and staffers are still attending to minor construction projects.
That said, the place is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Located in a sharp storefront near the intersection of Professor and Starkweather, Istanbul features two small light-flooded rooms. An eight-seat bar — a leftover from the space's days as Hotz Valley View Café — is in the front dining room, while an elevated rear dining room offers a bit more peace and quiet.
The menu will offer few surprises to fans of the cuisine — at least fans of American restaurants that specialize in it. The Middle Eastern-themed fare includes cold dips like hummus, baba, and tabouli, all served with warm, thick pita. There are numerous vegetarian dishes, such as rice-stuffed grape leaves and refreshing salads of tomato, cucumber, and onion. Hot starters such as slender fried cigars stuffed with parsley-scented feta and savory cubes of sautéed liver topped with raw onion are delicious, if ubiquitous. The true stars here, though, are the kebabs: grilled meat dishes served with rice or yogurt. Options run from gyro-like doner to zesty adana, seasoned ground lamb formed around skewers and grilled. Most appetizers are $5, while entrées are $9 to $13.
Since its inception in 2006, the Battery Park neighborhood has sold 61 homes, 5 of which closed in June alone. It's obvious that momentum is on the development's side. Expect that momentum to pick up even more thanks to the planned autumn opening of Powerhouse Wine Bar.
Set inside the historic Eveready Powerhouse, the wine bar and restaurant will offer 150 wines by the bottle and 25 by the glass, plus numerous craft beers on draft and in bottles. Now undergoing renovations, the iconic building, with its towering smokestack and lake views, will feature an industrial-chic design with exposed brick walls and visible ductwork. Owned by longtime wine rep Mike Graley, the bar will serve gourmet appetizers and larger composed plates. A retail section will offer wines to go.
"Our goal is to create an upscale place to visit where you have fun, enjoy a bottle of wine, a few appetizers, and escape the madness of everyday life without committing to a $100-plus dinner," says Graley.