The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Sultan Kebab

#14: Adana Kebab Sandwich on Pita, with Yogurt Sauce – Sultan Kebab

The Kebab Sandwich

It speaks volumes about the excellence and growth of our food scene that this was once my favorite sandwich in Charlottesville. It’s not that the sandwich has dropped in quality. Not at all. Since opening in 2012, Sultan Kebab has been a model of consistency, never offering something that does not meet the high standards of the restaurant’s two owners.

Those owners hail from two different regions of Turkey – Izmir and Adana – and Sultan Kebab’s food draws on both. The Adana kebab is ground beef marinated with fresh red peppers, red pepper paste and paprika, and then shaped along an iron skewer, and grilled over an open flame. For the sandwich, they wrap the long kebab in lavash bread, along with lettuce, tomato, and onion. While excellent, even better is substituting the lavash with Sultan Kebab’s house baked pita bread – soft, fresh, and delicious – and adding yogurt sauce. No matter how much Charlottesville’s food community grows, this sandwich would always be worthy of the area’s best.

#14: Adana Kebab Sandwich on Pita – Sultan Kebab
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Kafta Manousheh at Thyme & Co., Chicken Khati Roll at Kanak, Kibbeh Flatbread Wrap at Sticks, Souvlaki Pita at Tip Top. Vegetarian Alternatives: Vegetable Manousheh at Thyme & Co., Paneer Khati Roll at Kanak, Vegetarian Sandwich at Sultan Kebab

Five Finds on Friday: Brittany Miller

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Brittany Miller of Cakes by Rachel and Shenandoah Imagery. There are lots of great cake bakers in the area, but only one who was once head chef of Clifton Inn, Rachel Willis. Miller runs the office for Cakes by Rachel and also has her own food photography business, Shenandoah Imagery. As a classically trained chef, Willis still loves a challenge, like our request for a Manhattan-inspired cake to help us celebrate this weekend. White cake baked with a splash of whiskey and bitters, brushed with a whiskey cherry syrup, filled with homemade brandied cherries and triple whipped cream, and iced with a “Manhattan” buttercream: vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream accented with whiskey, vermouth, bitters and Fiori di Sicilia. Miller’s picks:

1) Vegan “Crab” Cake Sandwich at Firefly. “You can’t tell it’s not real crab. And this is coming from someone who orders crab cakes whenever I see them on a menu. I would recommend Firefly to any vegetarian or vegan looking for delicious eats.”

2) Southern Fried Chicken at South Street Brewery. “A huge piece of perfectly seasoned chicken is complemented by pillows of mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s comfort food at its finest. Better than Grandma’s.”

3) Chocolate Sour Cream Cake from Cakes by Rachel. “Everyone who’s had Rachel’s baked goods can attest to them being the best in the area, but Rachel’s chocolate cake reigns supreme, and I’m not historically a huge fan of chocolate cake. Pro tip: order yours with the chocolate buttercream. Absolute heaven. Everyone wishes they were her official cake taster, but that’s actually part of my job. I’m very lucky to work there.”

4) Sigara Börek at Sultan Kebab. “Hot phyllo rolls filled with Turkish white cheese and parsley should tell you all you need to know. They’re like mozzarella sticks, but better. Having shot their whole menu, I can certify that the owners are really great people who are passionate about their food and you can tell. Every bite amazes.”

5) Chicken Paffle from Iron Paffles. “What exactly is a paffle? I’m not really sure. I just know those paffle sandwiches taste really freaking good. I recommend the chicken with the macaroni and cheese and sriracha. The chicken is tender and the paffles are perfectly flaky. Mac and cheese just rounds it out to make it a perfect sandwich. I can’t wait to go back.”

 

Otto Turkish Street Food Brings Doner Kebab to Charlottesville

A Turkish place just off the downtown mall owned by “Turkish natives . . . who . . . met while working at the Clifton Inn.” Sound familiar?

Well, now there’s another one. Otto Turkish Street Food opens today at 111 West Water Street, most recently home to Modern Nosh. With an outstanding Turkish restaurant just a stone’s throw away — also opened by Clifton Inn alum — some may wonder what sets Otto apart. In a word, doner.

Doner kebab is beloved in many parts of the world — Germany alone eats more than 2 million per day. Dating back two centuries to the Ottoman empire, the dish of meat cooked on a vertical spit is the ancestor of the gyro in Greece, shawarma in the Middle East, and tacos al pastor in Mexico.

Much to the dismay of fans of doner on a spit, though, there’s none in Charlottesville. With Otto, Turkish natives Ali Sevindi and Haldun Turgay seek to fill that void. (Sultan Kebab serves a doner kebab variation cooked on the grill.) Graduates of Hospitality and Business School, Sevindi and Turgay came to the United States in 2013 and met while working at Clifton Inn, where Sevindi was the Food and Beverage Manager. More recently, they worked together at Oakhurst Inn.

With a background in fine dining, Sevindi and Turgay had long imagined they would open a high end restaurant together. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they shifted to something more affordable. For that, they turned to Turkey’s beloved street food, doner kebab, which they thought would lend itself well to a fast casual concept. After months of research and practice, they seem to have it down.

They start with three cuts of beef – brisket, chuck, and sirloin – which they marinate in minced onions, salt, and pepper. Next, they stack slabs of the beef high on a vertical rotisserie, which chars the outer layer brown with flavor, while the interior stays moist. To serve, they shave off thin slices by cutting vertically down the exterior. There is also a chicken doner made from slabs of breast and thigh, shaved the same way.

The menu offers three ways to enjoy doner – wrap, bowl, or sandwich — along with a choice of Turkish toppings and sauces, like sumac onions, hummus, tzatziki, and esme, a Turkish red pepper paste. Sevindi’s favorite is a sandwich stuffed in fluffy, house-made pita bread.

There is also house-made falafel, likewise available as a sandwich, wrap or bowl.

So, what do Sultan Kebab’s owners think about the upstart down the street?

They are thrilled. Close friends of Sevindi and Turgay, Sultan Kebab’s owners even helped them launch their new restaurant. Who wouldn’t want doner kebab on a spit nearby?

Starting Friday December 4, Otto is open daily from 11am – 9pm.

 

 

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