Lunch, dinner, take-out, and catering are all available at EFES Mediterranean Grill. Opened in February 2012 at 235 B Nassau Street, it has attracted a growing number of customers who enjoy its tasty middle eastern-style cuisine and family-oriented atmosphere.
“Princeton is a good location for us,” says chef/owner/manager Ekrem (“Frankie”) Bodur. “It’s an international community, and many people here have traveled to Turkey, where I am from. We have a great customer base, including lots of families, and lot of kids. Kids love the kebabs, our specialty.”
A native of Turkey, Mr. Bodur came to the U.S. when he was a boy in 1989. After initially settling in Brooklyn, N.Y., the family moved to New Jersey, and eventually Mr. Bodur, his brothers, and cousins, opened a successful restaurant EFES Mediterranean Grill in New Brunswick.
“I love to cook,” he explains. “I have always enjoyed it. It’s creative, and I’m always experimenting.”
The New Brunswick restaurant was very successful, with many customers from all over the area, including Princeton. “We had a lot of people from Princeton, who asked us to open here,” says Mr. Bodur. “We have had great word-of-mouth, with people coming from Princeton, Kingston, Lawrenceville, and all over the area. We have also had a lot of Princeton University students come in.”
Customers are enjoying both the food and the atmosphere at EFES Mediterranean Grill. Named for Efes, the ancient classical city in Turkey (once ruled by the Greeks and the Romans), the restaurant can accommodate 15 people for sit-down dining as well as 15 more outside. The decor features attractive mosaic tile from Turkey, and Turkish artwork and artifacts will be added soon.
The menu offers wide-ranging choices, including hot and cold appetizers, soup, salads, side dishes, sandwiches and wraps, entrees, and special dishes.
“The kebabs are the most popular item,” reports Mr. Bodur. “It’s the taste. It’s different. They are charcoal-grilled, with a unique flavor. We bring our own herbs and spices from Turkey, and we have our own special recipes. Oregano and paprika are very important in our dishes.”
Popular appetizers include stuffed grape leaves, grilled hummus, baba ghanoush, mixed eggplant, and falafel, among others. Many vegetarian appetizers are available.
Sandwiches and wraps are served on pita bread, with lettuce, tomato, onion, and white and red sauce. “We use our special Turkish bread,” says Mr. Bodur.
Favorite sandwiches are the grilled H-gyro-doner (ground lamb and beef combination), H-Adana kebab (ground lamb flavored with red bell peppers slightly seasoned with paprika and grilled on a skewer), and H-chicken kebab (tender chunks of chicken marinated with the chef’s own blend of herbs and spices).
The entrees are served with bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and rice or French fries. Kebabs are in small or larger sizes, and include the traditional shish kebab (special marinated cubes of baby lamb, grilled on skewers), mixed grill (a combination of shish kebab, gyro, and grilled chicken), and a variety of other kebabs.
In addition, specialties, such as lamb chops and moussaka (chunks of baby eggplant with ground leg of lamb seasoned with herbs, and served with rice), are favorite dishes.
Seafood is also available, as are hamburgers. The popular baklava (freshly homemade and perfectly flavored) is a traditional dessert, and Turkish coffee is a specialty along with Turkish tea. Regular coffee, iced tea, and assorted sodas are also available.
Catering has become a big part of EFES’s business, notes Mr. Bodur. “We do every kind and size event. We recently catered a gathering for 500 people!”
He is proud of the restaurant’s success and that it is a thriving family business, offering the freshest ingredients and tastiest dishes for his diners. “Everything we have is so fresh, and with our own unique flavors. Come and see us. You can bring wine or beer, and have a relaxed, leisurely meal in our friendly, down-to-earth restaurant.”
Mr. Bodur has made an effort to keep prices reasonable. Appetizers are $2.95 to $7.95; salads $6.50 and up; sandwiches and wraps $5.95 and $6.95; hamburgers $4.50; small kebabs $8.50, large $11.95; moussaka $12.95, and baklava $3.95.
EFES Mediterranean Grill is open seven days, from 11 a.m. to 9:30/10 p.m. (609) 683-1220. Website: www.efesgrill.com.