Do you have a restaurant that you’ve walked by a thousand times but have never been to? I sure do! And this week I finally went to mine. Cafe Orchid is an unassuming Turkish restaurant, located at the corner of Lincoln and Addison. We went in around 2 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and there were just a few tables. The atmosphere is very comfortable, with a small number of tables inside and a covered patio outside. We knew we wanted to start with an appetizer. We ordered Ezme: chopped, spicy roasted red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and parsley; served with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and warm pita bread. This was absolutely fantastic! It had a beautiful combination of sweet and savory flavors and the texture of the chopped walnuts was delightful. We decided to share a few main dishes. We chose the Adana Shish Kebab: hand chopped ground lamb with red bell peppers, parsley, mint, oregano, black pepper, and garlic; served with green salad, hot and white sauce, and your choice of rice or bulgur (we chose rice). This was just delicious! The lamb was well prepared and was very juicy. I absolutely loved the hot red sauce on the side; it was wonderfully spicy and complemented the rich lamb. The veggies in the green salad were fresh and crisp as well. We also ordered the Falafel Special: falafel, hummus, babaganoush, and a green salad. Babaganoush is a grilled eggplant puree with tahini, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. I really liked their take on babaganoush. At other restaurants, the texture of this dish is very similar to hummus, very creamy and smooth. Here, the eggplant was a little chunkier, giving the dish a great texture, as well as flavor. The hummus was really nice too. I enjoyed the falafel too! The outside was nice and crispy and the dipping sauce it came with was very tasty. The portions were very generous and there was plenty for all three of us. After our meal, our server brought us complimentary Turkish tea, served in a lovely glass teacup with a cube of sugar on the side. This is a traditional way to end a meal in Turkey and he wanted us to experience it as it was our first time at Cafe Orchid. The tea was delicious and this was such a lovely gesture and way to finish our meal.
Cafe Orchid is open Sundays through Thursdays from 11 am to 10 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 11 pm. Cafe Orchid has another location in Park Ridge. Both locations offer online ordering, as well as catering services. Check out their website for more information.
RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO