4, 5, 6, 7, S at Grand Central-42nd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
32nd St. to 57th St., First Ave. to Madison Ave.
This tucked-away midtown Turkish spot from Orhan Yagan (Sip Sak) has a homey vibe and friendly service, with a big glass counter showing various salads and dips within. During the day, it's popular with the queue of office workers, who can choose from these premade selections to lessen the wait, while evenings are quiet and peaceful in the after-7 p.m. ghostland of East 45th Street. Eggplant salad (more of a spread, really) is as aggressively smoky as if someone extinguished a match in it, but it grows on you as you spread it on rectangles of house flatbread. Celery root with carrots is served cool and has potato-ey starchiness that might appeal to spud lovers, while fried, feta-stuffed borek are like egg rolls, Middle Eastern-style. Of the larger plates, Ali Nazik, a creamy, garlicky mash of eggplant and ground lamb, is so good you'll fight dining companions to mop up every last bit, while lamb meatballs are flavorful and come with a side of rice and bright green and red sauces as garnish. Manti are explained as "beef dumplings" on the menu, but they're far more refined than that, small ravioli-like twists of dough with a beefy filling and a delicate yogurt sauce. The restaurant has no liquor license, but you can bring your own or opt for strong Turkish tea. That pairs nicely with dessert, a must-order whether you go for moist, sugary baklava or daily specials like candied butternut squash.