The second stop on my survey of Montclair’s Turkish and Mediterranean restaurants was Lalezar. Located at 720 Bloomfield Avenue, Lalezar occupies a large corner space at Bloomfield Avenue and St. Lukes Place.
There are two dining rooms at Lalezar. Both are decorated in bold Turkish fashion. After having dined in both dining rooms, I would recommend the lower, sunk-in dining room with softer lighting and warmer color tones.
I dined at Lalezar on a Friday afternoon for lunch. A note to readers, the lunch special applies only Monday – Thursday. For appetizer I began with Ezme ($3.95) a spicy blend of finely chopped tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, and walnuts. I absolutely loved this! It resembled harissa, but without all the heat. A very savory spread.
For my entrée, I chose Tavuk Pirzola ($13.95), delicately marinated butterflied “lamb chop style” chicken thighs, accompanied by bulgur. Definitely, the most delicious chicken thighs I’ve ever tasted. Very, very good.
My companion ordered Adana Kebab ($14.95), ground lamb with onions and red peppers; flavored with Turkish seasonings. The meat, which I sampled, also accompanied by bulgur, was very flavorful and moist.
During my second experience at Lalezar, I dined there for dinner on a Friday night. My companion and I chose the dinner special which consists of three courses, soup, entrée, and tea, for $9.95, and also ordered additional appetizers of Coban Salata ($7.95) and Patlican Soslu ($3.95)
The Coban Salata consists of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, scallions, and parsley tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. The salad was crisp, colorful and plentiful. The Patlican Soslu is a mixture of sautéed eggplant, red and green bell peppers, onion in fresh tomato sauce. It was tangy and familiar, reminding me of eggplant caponata.
Then, as part of the dinner special, we were given the choice of Red Lentil soup or Chicken soup. I opted for the Red Lentil and was pleasantly surprised at the smooth texture and nice flavoring. I tasted my companion’s chicken soup and found it to be a bit bland, wanting for salt and additional seasonings.
For my entrée, I choose Lahana Sarma (reg. $16.95), cabbage leaves, stuffed with ground meat, rice, peppers, onions, and dill and served with homemade tomato sauce and garlic yogurt sauce. The stuffed cabbage was tender and flavorful.
My companion chose Izgara Kofte Kebab, which is ground lamb seasoned with herbs and spices. The meat was soft and rich in lamb flavor, and Turkish spices, and definitely worth ordering again.
Our final course was a warm glass of tea. Not quite what I expected as a “course.” Therefore I was a bit disappointed.
Although the waitress was very kind, the service was awkward and at times slow, as there was only one waitress serving our table and another party of two. It’s my understanding that Lalezar is currently experiencing an adjustment period. As such, the hours and menu posted on-line are not the same as the menu I received when dining. Also, hours of operation appear to be inconsistent. My advice would be to call ahead.
Have you been to Lalezar? How was your experience?