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Leyla
Credit: Leyla

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried Turkish cuisine before. Maybe once, but it’s hard to remember. Now I feel like I’m making up for lost time after experiencing one of the best foodie spots I’ve had in a long time at Leyla in the Upper West Side, who perfect what this kind of cooking is all about.

I’ve always had a fond liking for restaurants in the Upper West Side. They tend to have a smaller and more intimate kind of vibe compared to its larger Big Apple counterparts.

Credit: Leyla

Leyla gets that across with its homage to Turkish-forward colors like white, blue and orange splashed all around its beautiful location. I also enjoyed seeing the traditional items that were hung across the space that really built on what was already a fabulous experience the minute i walked through the door.

Conceptualized by Huseyin Ozer (Bodrum NYC) and his business partner Berna Erbilgin Gundogdu, Leyla brings a piece of the duo’s home to New Yorkers. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Met Kaba with the help of General Manager Murat Akinci and will plate up a masterful and surprising menu of Turkish and Mediterranean dishes designed to inspire guests’ palates and conversations.

Something that was very evident at Leyla was the flavor profiles in all the dishes they provided. I was impressed with everything from A to Z and totally understood the Turkish and Mediterranean aspects that was found in the meals me and my friend had.

Credit: Leyla

Something as simple as their Truffled Celery Root Soup with chive oil was a wonderful start to our meal. The weather during that time was on the chillier side and this kind of soup warmed me up instantly. Celery is such an underrated vegetable that should be used more in hearty options like this as it tasted wonderfully with the chive oil and everything else that encompassed it.

Something that also impressed my taste buds were their Pides, which are flat breads fresh from their brick oven. They use a variety of fresh ingredients in their individual Pides that enhance the flavor of the perfectly cooked bread. We tried their 3 Cheese Pide with halloumi, kashar, mozzarella cheese and truffle honey. And honey, it was amazing.

Something as simple as a Greek Salad can be elevated with a pomegranate lemon dressing and ezine cheese, which is a Turkish version of a traditional Feta cheese. It’s good to think alternatively when it comes to classic dishes like this, and their Greek Salad definitely caught my eye and mouth in the best of ways.

Credit: Leyla

I also heavily enjoyed their Zucchini Rolls stuffed with spiced pilaf, pesto sauce and pine nuts as well as their Parmesan Crusted Chicken with a medley of vegetables. Two very different options that were cooked to perfection and had flavor in them that didn’t overwhelm my palate. This is easily a place I would go to again and again as I need to make up for all the years I lose for not eating such wonderful Turkish cuisine.

For more information on Leyla, please check out their official website.

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