I get so many restaurant recommendations from people that it is often hard to decipher which restaurants I desperately want to eat at and which I can put on the back burner for a while. No pun intended. However, chances are that if I get several recommendations for the same restaurant then it obviously must be something special – as was the case with Cazbar. Cazbar is an authentic Turkish restaurant located in the quaint Mount Vernon area in Baltimore.
The restaurant is multiple levels and turns into a lounge with music and a belly dancer at night. The décor is a modern infusion of interesting colors and textures mixed with old world Turkish amenities. It seemed as if most of the servers were of Turkish descent, including the manager who continually checked up on our table to explain the various items and make sure our meal was up to par. We really wanted to sample a lot of things on the menu, so we ordered the Sultan’s Platter for two ($59.95). The Sultan’s Platter is a three course pre-fixe dining option where you get a sample of their five most popular spreads/appetizers – hummus, tzatiki, zucchini fritter, babganoush, and a mixture of sautéed vegetables in a spicy rich tomato paste. This was probably the highlight of the meal. Not to downplay anything else we ordered, but this was hands down the tastiest, most well-done feature of the evening. Every component was clearly homemade using the best ingredients. The hummus was velvety and rich, the babaganoush a perfect blend of roasted eggplant and spice, the zucchini fritter was light and crispy, and the sautéed vegetables were probably the best thing on the plate.
Additionally, we ordered lahmajun which is a traditional Turkish dish comprised of spiced ground lamb baked on flatbread. The lahmajun was good but not the best I have had. It was a bit too thin for my liking but the seasoned lamb was on point. The main entree included with the sultan’s platter is a massive family style dish of basmati rice, adana kebab (spice lamb), kofte kebab (spiced beef), chicken kebab and finally steak kebab. There is also grilled salmon and shrimp included to accompany all the other proteins. This was a great way to sample almost every kebab offered on the menu. The adana kebab and chicken kebab were especially good. Both were charred and juicy while being properly seasoned with mass amounts of paprika, cumin and parsley. The pre-fixe dessert item was rice pudding. I’m usually not a fan of rice pudding but Cazbar’s rendering was very good. The rice was not overly cooked and the consistency of the pudding was smooth not gloppy.
I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience at Cazbar. The staff was very friendly and the food reminded me of my father’s cooking. The prices were fair, averaging about $8 for appetizers and about $18-23 for entrees. There were still many items on the menu which I wanted to try so I am anxiously awaiting another opportunity to visit this Baltimore gem.