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Oct 19
Tuesday
Reviews (Eats)
Klemuri: Lazmatazz


Like Clark Kent hiding his Superman tights beneath a brown suit and glasses, Klemuri maintains the appearance of a predictable, Beyoğlu café — wooden tables, shelves loaded with knicknacks, Buena Vista Social Club on the stereo, spinach crepes and a crispy chicken salad on the menu. But down in the kitchen, out of public view, Klemuri’s alterego, a spry Laz cook, is waiting to save you from another boring “café” lunch.

Turkish stereotypes like to portray the Laz (an ethnic group from Turkey’s far northeast “Black Sea region”) as amusing, ignorant mountain folk, who talk with an odd accent and dance a wild jig. They are the beloved butt of the one-liners but, thankfully, there is more to the Laz than the caricatures of Dursun, Temel and their redneck adventures. There is the food.

At Klemuri, which in the Laz language refers to the chain which holds the cauldron over the fire, the Karadeniz tabaği, offers a nice sampling of Black Sea specialties: thick sarma made from chard leaves stuffed with a hearty mixture of meat and rice, sautéed onions with crushed walnuts, tangy pickled beans fried in a skillet (turşu kavurma), and patates kavurma, a sort of potato salad served hot. Of course, on the side came a basket of cornbread, the hallmark of the Black Sea.

On a recent visit, we were particularly happy to find Klemuri’s muhlama, a sort of Laz fondue, heavy on the cornmeal and butter. A skillet of cheese fresh from the “yayla” shot through with cornmeal and fried in rich butter is a delicious reminder of the highland pastures of the Kaçkar Mountains. But be careful, one portion can easily feed two or three people. And you will want to save room for a piece of Laz boreği, a sweet pastry filled with a scoop of pudding.

As if these menu staples were not enough, Klemuri offers daily specials from the Laz kitchen including pepeçura, ekşaş, mafuş and several others that we’ve never heard of before. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Thinking of ordering the crepe just to be on the safe side? Just open your mouth and say hamsi.

Address: Tel Sokak 2/1, Beyoglu
Telephone: 212-292-3272

(photo by Ansel Mullins)

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4 Responses to “ Klemuri: Lazmatazz ”
  1. thanks a lot for this nice review ever!
    we would like to invite you all to the special rembetiko night on 21st october, 21:00 and the halloween dinner on 31st october , 20:00..

    you can follow the events on the blog and facebook…

    http://www.klemuri.blogspot.com/

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this review about this gem of a restaurant. I went there a few nights ago and feasted on so much delicious food, I could barely contain myself. My tastebuds are still thanking Klemuri for the luscious meal. We had the Fondue, Banana Chicken, Georgian Fondue, and the cheese (can’t remember the name!) salad. Everything was just splendid and special. Thank you so much for telling the world about this place!

  3. I am just re-living my recent trip to Istanbul, looking up on your site many of the places I enjoyed such memorable meals. Like the one at Klemuri, still strong in memory thanks to the muhlama and the splendid company. Today, here in freezing Boston, I long for the warmth of that cozy cafe and all of its treasures.

  4. rl reeves jr

    Feb 16, 2012
    Reply

    Typically excellent Laz, Hamsi preparation which is to say, barely do anything and let the Hamsi do the talking. Exquisitely fresh. Loved the warm glow of the cafe, they definitely understand the value of lighting. Cornbread was dry but that seems to be a common thread in even the best Istanbul kitchens.

    Dessert was incredible. Laz Borek, a thousand or so layers of phyllo stuffed with a creamy pudding and seasoned with black pepper.

    Hospitality was fine. The young girl whom I believe is the daughter of the owners was friendly and fluent in English. I had a lot of questions and she was more than happy to answer all queries.

    Can’t wait to get back to this cafe.


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