>> OPera Cafe & Lounge | Eat the World NYC

10 May 2017

OPera Cafe & Lounge


During the European Championships, OPera Cafe & Lounge stood out as a good place to watch multiple screens of football in a vast boozy space, not to mention it opened early and would show Turkey's matches even at 9am. Without seeing it in person, it was added to our roundup of the 2016 event. Recently, we finally had the chance to come and test the restaurant, finding the atmosphere predicted to be spot on. Our Monday lunch was surrounded by multiple highlight shows with all the action from Europe that had happened over the weekend, the waiter adding that the turnout for "El Classico" two days prior was very high.

While not many of the Russian and English speaking patrons having lunch on a Monday were so interested in European football at the time, it was still nice to know the place would be perfect for Turkey's future matches in international play. The restaurant has an expansive full bar and wine list, and must get nice and raucous.

Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay is sort of a different world, it has a faux-glamour all to itself. Each expansive restaurant lining the street might seem gaudy taken as a whole, but inside they are not too bad, welcoming despite the gold upholstery and chandeliers. OPera is probably the least of this, but still describes itself as the largest "Turkish Mediterranean" in Brooklyn, with descriptions of Turkish hospitality mixed in. Only those folks who grew up in Brooklyn would say the "view" of Sheepshead Bay was an asset for a restaurant.

Ok, enough prodding South Brooklyn. OPera on a Monday lunch was surprisingly busy, a sign that the place is hugely popular in the neighborhood. Dining only as a party of two, we selected the mixed plates to sample more. The small mixed meze plate ($16, below) was beautiful and offered six cold meze dishes and a basket of bread.

Ever since our first meal at Hazar Turkish Kebab in Bay Ridge in December 2015, we have been returning there regularly as it is the high mark for New York City Turkish. As a small cafe without much insulation from extreme temperatures of summer and winter, it does not quite offer the same comfort that OPera can, but the meze somehow stays in a league of its own.

The mixed grill ($26, below) takes quite a while to arrive, but is worth the wait. The thin chewy pita bread makes a great vehicle for eating the five or six kebabs. Make sure to add in the yogurt sauce if desired, and enjoy the good quality rice and salad.

As your stomach expands and you slouch down in your upholstered chair, the Costco-style exposed ceiling looks down upon you with approval. Our next trip here with friends will include some of the grilled Mediterranean fish and gozleme, a traditional Turkish savory flatbread pastry. Don't forget to have a cup of strong Turkish coffee ($3) to help with digestion. Although five years old, the restaurant is one of the newer places to eat on the strip and challenging the old standbys for popularity.

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