On a recent bone-chilling day, a ravenous Comestaccomplice stopped by and suggested we eat something "warm and hearty." Knowing how much she likes lamb, I asked, "How about Turkish?" She knew immediately what I had in mind: Memo Shish Kebab in Midwood, Brooklyn. My erstwhile super, a Turk, introduced me to this marvelous Mediterranean eatery several years ago. It has remained my favorite place for doner (gyro) ever since.
Our meal began with a generous, "small" portion ($5 small/$8 large) of patlican ezmesi (babaghanoush), a delicious purée of eggplant, prepared with tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, onion, and garlic. Its delightful smokiness distinguishes it from similar preparations I've tried. Memo's home bread—a soft, round, seeded flatbread—made a splendid companion. We were off to a great start.
Having tried a number of dishes, including the highly recommended Iskender kebab (a seasonal offering, featuring a lightly hot tomato sauce), I continue to prefer the lamb doner (pronounced doh·NAIR) to all the rest. Memo's exquisitely seasoned ground lamb, cooked on a spit over charcoal, is among the most flavorful I've tasted. The fresh spices, together with the accompanying cacik and spicy red sauce, yield an harmonious gustatory union. On this visit, I ordered my favorite: a large portion of the #4 Lamb Gyro/Doner. Whether served as a platter ($8/$13) or as a sandwich ($6/$7), this is one tasty viand.
My Comestaccomplice raved about the succulence of her #2 Shish Kebab ($8.5/$13). (She was quick to concede that her numerous kebab efforts have never produced the same degree of moistness.) Rather than overwhelming the charcoal-grilled chunks of lamb, the marinade is subtle enough to reveal the rich flavors of the meat, yet savory enough to obviate the need for additional seasoning. While shish kebab is normally served with rice, my dining partner opted for "pretty good" French-fried potatoes instead.
Although the menu lists baklava and puddings under the heading, "DESERT/TATLILAR," I had another place in mind for dessert: a little Turkish café not far away. (Ah, but that's the subject of another post.)
Memo underwent an expansion a few years ago. Though still somewhat spare, the larger space is comfortable and inviting. Its true appeal, however, continues to be the appetizing redolence of grilled meat and fresh spices.
Memo Shish Kebab
1821 Kings Highway (NW corner E. 19th St),
Midwood, Brooklyn (map)
Open daily, 11:00 A.M. till 11:00 P.M.