This past weekend I had a good brunch overall at Pera SoHo. This Mediterranean restaurant had lots of Turkish touches that intrigued me to have brunch here. (I’m not a fan of traditional brunch. I think a typical brunch would be run of the mill breakfast food and one has an excuse to drink booze in the morning.)
On that note, we started with a delicious and fruity red wine sangria and a potent yet balanced Turkish apricot bellini ($7 each). Not long from the arrival of our drinks, the waiter brought out a basket of warm focaccia with house made hummus and olive oil to dip. The foccacia was unfortunately a dense, dry brick that I can’t bring myself to have past a bite, even with the help of the olive oil.
Thankfully, the starters were a lot better. The Portuguese fried calamari with soujouk and peppers ($11) were wonderfully crisp and light and the spicy, chewy Turkish sausage soujouk and pepper slices made it really interesting. The spicy muammara with chickpea chips ($8) was nutty and not terribly spicy that we eagerly ate through the bowl. The eggplant “köfte” croquettes ($9) were good vegetarian croquettes that I won’t mind having daily. Crisp on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. The crispy phyllo rolls ($7) were excellently fried and I do like the fresh cheese filled in there but it’s kind of one-noted.
Moving on to our main courses, my hanger steak frites ($21) were cooked to the desired medium-rare and seasoned well and the fries were crisp yet fluffy on the inside.
The eggs benedict with beef pastirma and marash pepper hollandaise ($18) was an absolute favorite dish from what we had. My companion and I were swooning over the intensely spiced beef pastirma (it vaguely reminded me of Chinese cured bacon (or lap yuk; 臘肉)), layered in between stacks of thinly sliced English muffins, and the luscious oozy egg yolk from the poached egg. The hollandaise gilded the lily with the thick, creamy textures and bolstered the spicing as well.
Though we’re pretty stuffed, we must finish off with desserts since it’s available. Their pistachio baklava ($8) was a good version. Crisp and flaky yet sticky sweet and moist. Our waiter told us that their house specialty was the oven baked kadafi “künefe” ($11) and it required a 15-minute wait because it’s made to order. The patience does pay off as this crisp, buttery, noodle-like threads of phyllo were filled with a fresh mild cheese. It’s sweet but not cloying and it had this orange blossom flavor that I did enjoy. It is indeed a special dessert.
This is a good brunch destination if you want something beyond the standard pancakes and Bloody Marys (though they do have them). Personally, I adored the Turkish inflected brunch food as it tasted so much more interesting (and it helps that the executive chef is Turkish) and the prices are reasonable (especially if you consider their brunch prix fixe deal).
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):