Short Orders: Nazar

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15107 Addison Rd.

Hardly anything has changed since this place transformed itself from the Turkish restaurant called Shish to the Turkish restaurant called Nazar.

Oh, there's a new owner and all. But I'm almost certain I had the same waiter as my last trip to Shish. There's the same strange situation where up to seven cars may be camped out front but only two guests in the dining room. The menu features the same dishes with almost the exact same wording--instead of listing Iskender kebap as "Alexander the Great's favorite," it now reads "Alexander The Greatest favorite."

Not bad for a dish invented in the 1800s.

There's one big difference: the new owners promise, right there on the menu, that they use absolutely no "conservatives" in the preparation of dishes. No wonder the waiter kept shoving sticks of butter my direction while the chef eyed me from a distance, probably assessing my marbling.

Aside from the rather tepid liberal taste to many of the meat dishes, Nazar serves relatively commonplace Turkish creations, many of which seem to be made in advance, allowing the chef time to toke from a hookah (as he did while I sat there). My order of lahana sarma, or stuffed cabbage, was the last one in the kitchen, according to my waiter. And this was lunchtime on a Saturday.

The rolls wallow in a tangy tomato puree intensified by yogurt but pulled back down to earth thanks to the nicely seasoned ground beef mixture. Their falafel presents sharp herbal, grassy flavors. You can easily find better baklava for dessert elsewhere, but the restuarant's Turkish coffee is bold, bitter and tacky.

It feels very casual, right down to the homestyle presentations.

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