Relax. It’s not that kind of afternoon delight, although some might argue it is better and preferable. I am talking about my ladies lunch Tuesday with my girlfriends Lisa and Sonia. We went to THE BIRD HOUSE GRILL at Encinitas. The last time we were there together was two years ago. I remembered the food was wonderful, the price reasonable and the ambience a relaxed and casual beachside eatery. In my excitement (and probably hunger!), I forgot to take a picture of the restaurant. But I did snap some photos of the feast we ordered.
The family meal is a larger combo plate that includes gyro meat, kofte kebab and chicken kebab. As with all of their combo plates, it was served with generous portions of rice pilav, salad, pita bread and tzadziki sauce. A dessert is also included which is usually the homemade baklava. The owner, Sevgi or Moma Sevgi as she is lovingly called by regulars, announced that there was no baklava that day but rice pudding instead. A plate of börek or spinach pie was also included with our meal.
We started with a meze or appetizer called Patlican Salata, a salad made of grilled and shredded aubergines or eggplant marinated in olive oil and garlic dressing and served with a basket of warm pita bread. It was deliciously spicy with just the right kick.
A plate of dolma was served next: grape leaves stuffed with spiced rice and rolled into cigar-like sizes. I once attempted to make this dish but with ground meat and nasturtium leaves instead of grape leaves.
Next came the Turkish salad. Not very familiar with Turkish cuisine, the plate of crunchy greens with red onion rings, large peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded red cabbage sprinkled with feta cheese and olive oil dressing looks like a typical Greek Salad to me. In a few minutes, the rest of our meal arrived. The kofte and chicken kebabs were grilled to perfection although I would have loved a little bit more spicing in mine. The chicken kebab was white meat (I prefer dark meat) but surprisingly not dry. The rice pilav was aromatic, perfectly cooked to separate into individual grains (as it should be!) and not sticky. Although it could have been a meal in itself, it went very well as a side dish.
We leisurely enjoyed our meal and gossipped about each others’ lives (as lunching girlfriends do). By the time the rice pudding dessert was served, Lisa and Sonia declined to partake so I devoured it all by myself. Moma Sevgi served me a medium sweet Turkish coffee, to wash it down. The perfect ending to our five-star meal!
But wait! As we were chatting with Moma and trying to get her to spill the secret recipes (there must be something in the coffee as I do not remember any of the ingredients she was dictating for the Patlican Salata!), she disappeared briefly in the kitchen and came out with another plate of meze. This time, it was aubergines in tomato sauce, a dish Sonia mentioned in passing that she liked and Moma generously provided for us to taste—after we were stuffed with all the great food!
The relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere alone would have sold me to this off the wall restaurant. The great food and friendly staff (well…it was just Moma at that time but I was told her daughter Julie comes in to help especially during weekends when belly dancers provide entertainment and reservations are strongly suggested) was a bonus.
By the way, if you decide to visit The Bird House Grill, asked Moma for the meze or appetizer of the day. These are not on the menu and are made fresh daily, depending on what Moma feels like cooking.
The Bird House Grill (Turkish Cuisine)
250 N. Coast Hwy 101
Enicinitas, CA 92024
Cash or Check Only, No Credit Cards