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Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

Tulip Continues to Blossom in Third Ward

Milwaukeeans embrace Turkish food, ambiance

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With its opening in 2007, Tulip introduced Turkish food to the area. The décor also brings a touch of Turkey, enhancing the restaurant's renovated Third Ward setting. A fireplace and leather sofas mark the center of the dining room, tables are spaced far apart to offer some privacy, and Turkish ceramics provide splashes of color.

Saturdays often find Tulip packed with patrons, with some even eating at the bar. Live musicians add to this truly unique setting.

Turkish food features Mediterranean ingredients merged with Middle Eastern and Central Asian touches. Kebabs are very popular, as are dolmas—stuffed vegetables of all types. Flavors can be rich, but they rarely get very spicy. This is delicious food that is very accessible to American palates.

For a fine vegetarian starter, try zeytinyagli yaprak sarmasi ($6), which translates to stuffed grape leaves. These grape leaves are filled with rice, currants, pine nuts, cinnamon and dill, and then drizzled with olive oil. They are served at room temperature. Acili ezme ($5), a spread of tomato, onion and hot green pepper laced with garlic, olive oil, lemon and pomegranate juice, gets a little spicy. It, too, is a delight. Eat it with pieces of flatbread.

Vegetarians will largely be limited to the appetizer section of the menu, as only two entrees are meat-free. That said, there are plenty of appetizers to choose from, as well as salads and a very nice red lentil soup.

The list of entrees, which include a side of white rice or bulgur pilaf, begins with iskender ($18), one of the most frequently ordered items. With thin slices of beef and lamb in a vibrant tomato sauce and served over pieces of pita bread, this makes for Turkish comfort food. Doner ($14) is the Turkish version of the Greek gyro—a version that is vastly superior here. Islim kebabi ($15) offers slices of eggplant sandwiched with pieces of lamb shank, onion and tomato. It's very good.

Carnivores should be pleased with kuzu sis ($20), kebabs of tender and juicy lamb meat. My favorite entrée remains the manti ($14), tiny meat-filled ravioli with an enchanting sauce of garlic and yogurt. This brings out the flavors of Central Asia.

Take a moment to relax at the bar underneath chandeliers of multicolored glass beads. The wine list is adequate, but go native and try a Turkish beer, Efes. After dinner, sip a raki, a cordial flavored with anise, or try a bracing Turkish coffee.

Tulip offers the magic of Istanbul, the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Tulip

360 E. Erie St.

(414) 273-5252

$$$

Credit Cards: All Major

Handicap Accessible

Tulipmilwaukee.com

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