If Lades, which means “wishbone” in Turkish, provided an actual wishbone alongside the usual post-meal wet wipe and toothpick, we’d close our eyes and make a wish that we could eat their tandır (oven-roasted baby lamb) seven days a week. These large knots of tender, fragrant meat lined with a soft cushion of fat are the sort of high-calorie lunch that we might save for a special occasion but Lades regulars take for granted.
Lades is an old school spot, a classic local lokanta serving stews and steam table favorites day in, day out. The monogrammed flatware, faded from decades of use by diners sopping up that last bit of stew with a fresh piece of white bread, indicates the sort of customer approval that we seek in a lunch spot. On one recent visit, we tried the hotpocket-like talaş kebabı – a stew of beef, carrots, currants, onions and pine nuts wrapped in phyllo dough. With a bowl of lentil soup, a side of okra and, for dessert, kazandibi (“burnt pudding”), we discovered that just about everything at Lades is highly soppable and dependably good.
Indeed, if Lades were an automobile, it might be an old Volvo station wagon – nothing exotic, but safe and extremely reliable. (Equally dependable is the highly recommended, diner-like Lades 2  across the street, which serves eggs and puddings.) “Most of our customers are regulars. They know exactly what is served on which day of the week. How could we possibly change anything?” said manager İlker Bey from his post at the register.
As it is written (on the window out front), on Mondays and Thursdays you shall eat döner kebab in succulent ribbons served over rice. Tuesday is a day for Arnavut ciger, lightly fried lambs liver ramped up with red peppers. Smothered okra, spinach with rice, roast chicken, various stews and our beloved tandır kebap are available everyday but Sunday, when the restaurant is closed. They may be dependable, but even the guys at Lades deserve a day of rest.
Address: Sadri Alışık Sokak 14, Beyoğlu
(photo by Ansel Mullins)