On Tuesday night I met my friend Şemsa for dinner at Asmalı Cavit in Beyoğlu. This spot is a typical meyhane (restaurant serving alcohol and mezes) in a part of town that is packed with such establishments. The quality of food varies wildly and most places are more attractive for their atmosphere and steady rakı flow than they are for their cuisine. Fortunately, Asmalı Cavit excels on all fronts.

We sat in the front room and, as one does in a meyhane, ordered rakı and an assortment of cold mezes: lakerda (pickled bonito), patlıcan salatası (smoked eggplant with a touch of bechamel), beyaz peynir (white cheese), tarama (fish roe spread), and brocoli greens.

Next were the hot mezes: ciğer (liver) and börek (triangles of phyllo dough filled with ground meat and sauteed onions.

Rounding out the meal was a heaping pile of köfte, little nuggets of juicy, ground meat. They were served with a bitter and spicy tomato based dipping sauce and potatoes. The meal was excellent, the setting was great, the service was attentive, and I shall return again and again.