Orhan Yegen has decided to close Sea Salt, the Turkish seafood restaurant he opened in the East Village last July. “I sold the place to an American,” the chef tells us. “He’s going to make it into a bar.” Yegen blamed the close on neighborhood demographics. “The age of those people, they don’t want to come to my restaurant. The people didn’t like me,” he explains. “They spit on my window. Then the neighbors, they don’t want to give me a license upgrade from beer and wine to full liquor. So now they get a bar.” He’s got another project in mind but declined to discuss the details now. In the meantime, Yegen will keep things running at Sip Sak.
Related: ‘Dog Food!’ ‘Idiots!’ and Other Sweet Nothings From Orhan Yegen
We're riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.
This week’s location is 53rd and Lex, the V’s last stop in Manhattan. It’s delis and hotels everywhere you look, and it doesn’t get much better as you head east on 53rd Street. But hang a right on Second Avenue, and pop into Sip Sak, Orhan Yegen’s one-of-a-kind take on Turkish fast food.
Somewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we don’t know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we'll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.This week: Kings Highway
Orhan Yegen is known among the city’s food writers for producing two things: great Turkish food and great quotes. He’s like the Charles Barkley of the restaurant world. And his Orhanisms have seldom been on better display than in a Metromix profile out this week. We could have predicted that Orhan would refer to the cuisines of other countries as “dog food” or dismiss all cooking-school instructors as “idiots.” But what a gift he gave Metromix when he picked on poor old Julia Child: “She was not a cook. She was a baker. Thank god she died.”
Pera’s plan to sell picnic baskets may seem like just another sop for Hampton-bound swells; really, it’s part of the restaurant’s master expansion strategy. Executive chef Jason Avery tells us that “Pera was never intended to be a one-shot deal; we’re looking to expand in the city, and across America.” Pera hasn’t found the right space or lease yet, but when it does, it will follow the lead of what Avery is already calling “our flagship restaurant.”
If the jam-packed Sfoglia up the street is any indication, denizens of Carnegie Hill are desperate for good food and cozy surroundings. The month-old Peri Ela delivers on both accounts, with its snug, wood-paneled, tin-ceilinged space filling up each night with locals lugging their own bottles of wine (until the license arrives) and tucking into platters of Turkish meze and kebabs.
We were tipped off to the month-old Seven’s Mediterranean Grill by Orhan Yegen, the city’s ambassador for Turkish food. As at Yegen’s East Side restaurant, Sip Sak, an array of house-ground, delicately spiced kebabs are complemented by fresh yogurt sauce and freshly baked bread. There’s also a big selection of the Turkish-Armenian spiced pizzas called lahmajoun. Chef and co-owner Aziz Seven has a history in New York kebab circles: His work at Ali Baba on East 34th Street was much admired, and his most recent New York venue, Sunnyside’s Turkish Grill, was a favorite of connoisseurs. Neither place, though, featured Seven’s oven-baked halvah, a must-have dessert of hot sesame pudding topped with toasted walnuts.
Seven’s Turkish Grill, 158 W. 72nd St., nr. Columbus Ave.; 212-724-4700.