A famous Turkish chef prepares outstanding food on a side street near Alewife

The back story Lavash is owned by Mesut Kara, raised in Istanbul on the European side. He had pizza restaurants before that, most recently Boston Crust in Brighton, which he sold. The Cambridge restaurant was in the works for many months, finally opening in January. Chef Ozan owned Sultan’s Kitchen in the Financial District for 36 years, where there were always lines out the door. He closed it in 2018. He is also the author of The Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook (1998). Ozan, who is from Izmir on Turkey’s west coast, sends over superb bowls of traditional soup, cold and hot appetizers, an array of kebabs and some classic phyllo pastries and puddings. The name lavash comes from the large loaves that are made in the region, but warm pita is in the bread basket.

Patlican saksuka, an eggplant and pepper dish served with traditional Turkish tea at Lavash Bar & Grille.

Erin Clark/The Globe Team

What to eat Ezo Gelin, the famous red lentil soup stewed with bulgur, is magnificent here, as is egg-lemon soup, a sort of Greek avgolemono. Patlican Saksuka, with chunky roasted eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, is as good a version as I’ve had. Small beef dumplings called manti covered in yogurt sauce are meaty, juicy little morsels. All kebab plates – lamb skewers, Adana lamb (ground), Adana chicken, chicken skewers, beef skewers – come with bulgur, chopped tomato salad and pickled onions. The most spectacular is the Yogurtlu Kebab, a popular dish that combines small lamb kofte (minced meat) with cubes of lamb on pita squares slathered in a mild tomato sauce (enough for two). Ozan makes rice pudding and almond pudding, but the most unusual is a delicious milk pudding called kazandibi, with a cinnamon-scented caramelized top, sort of like crème caramel, but without the eggs and so less rich.

Manti, very small ravioli stuffed with beef, served at Lavash Bar & Grille.Erin Clark/The Globe Team
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What shall we drink? You can watch your Turkish coffee being brewed in a forged copper coffee pot with one long handle. It is placed on heated sand on a tray until the water boils. Turkish tea, poured from a large rectangular copper machine at the bar, is served in the traditional short hourglass-shaped glass cups. Lavash does not yet have a wine and beer license.

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Coffee cups stand around a traditional coffee pot used to brew Turkish coffee at the newly opened Lavash Bar & Grille, based in Cambridge.

Erin Clark/The Globe Team

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The Takeaway Ozan is a talented cook and Kara is an attentive host. Turkish food is slow, laborious, because of the many elements that go into a dish. The dining room seats 70 (another 50 on the patio) and is well furnished with tables and chairs made of wood slabs with seats. There is no menu on the website so you can’t check the place before you go. Just get in the car and see for yourself. 26 New St., Cambridge, 617-714-4478.

The interior of Lavash Bar & Grille, a new Turkish restaurant recently opened in Cambridge.

Erin Clark/The Globe Team


Sheryl Julian can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.