This story is one you’ve heard in one form or another a thousand times before. The tale I’m about to tell is similar to the Isreali-Palestinian conflict, but about a billion times less poignant. Much of the story is second-hand, a lot could be hearsay, some might be embellished, much is documented in the local paper. I believe this to be mostly true as almost all the stories share the same basic thoughts.
A few years ago, there was a restaurant in downtown Lakeland called Istanbul and it was really good. I used to go there every few weeks to enjoy all the different types of Kebab. It seemed like the place was always bustling, especially during lunch. They were even open super late on Fridays and Saturdays, even later than the bars. It was run by what I believe to be two partners. I’m not sure if they were related or not but they were equal partners. A couple months after they opened, one of the guys exited the partnership for reasons unknown. The restaurant stayed open, but it completely changed in my opinion. One day as I drove through downtown Lakeland, I noticed a sign directly across from the restaurant. It was hand made and read “Bosphorus Turkish Kitchen. Opening soon.” I thought to myself “That’s weird. Two Turkish restaurants on the same block directly across from each other?” Such a strange and illogical business plan by this new eatery. It takes a special kind of person to make sense of something like this, but like with any confusing situations there is usually a simple reason behind it.
So here is the story as far as I know.
The one guy who left the original Istanbul, did so dramatically. The split was bitter and less than amicable. The new owner of Bosphorus vowed that he would have the best restaurant and that his goal would be to drive Istanbul out of town. I never personally saw how bad it got, because at the height of the feud, I was sent to an office in another part of town, making it too far to enjoy lunch in the area, but from what others witnessed, it was a Hatfield-McCoy style war of words.
I’m now back downtown. Istanbul is not. They must have lost the fight somewhere in the between. So that leaves Bosphorous as the Sultan of Shawarma, and with all due respect, Bosphorus is better.
When you go, and you’d better, get a Kebab in any of its many forms. (Lamb is the best. Always choose Lamb when the option is presented.)
The star of every meal I’ve had, whether it was Istanbul or now Bosphorus, is the “rice”. The “rice” tasted exactly the same at both. Bosphorus must have stolen Istanbul’s rice guy, if there is such a thing as a rice guy. I keep saying “rice” because thats how its described on the menu, but I do not think it’s rice. Whatever it is that makes a nice pillow for my Kebab, is what would happen if arborio and bulgar wheat had a rice baby. Extremely rich and buttery with a bit of heat from some chile.
The flavors are not so exotic that it would scare away any newbies of middle eastern food. I don’t think you people are so clueless that I’d have to treat you like a child, describing every subtle difference between the cuisines. It all taste great, so don’t be a jerk (I’m looking at you nit-picking yelp troll), but I digress. The prices for lunch are really reasonable, especially if you bring a large party for sharing. I would recommend anyone working in the area to at least try a lunch at Bosphorus. Not only will you experience a wonderful departure from the norm, you get free drinks if you work downtown, as well as having your food within 3 minutes of ordering. I couldn’t even put a lid on my free un-sweet iced tea with lemon. (The official beverage of Logan). If you’d like to visit Bosphorus Turkish Kitchen, you can find it at 127 S. Kentucky Ave. Lakeland, FL, Enjoy!
Editors Note: Bosphous is quite possibly closing the doors at it’s current location quite possibly by the end of August 2013. As the move is inevitable, the restaurant is looking feverishly for a new location. I just want to take a sec and show an updated photo and express our support to one of the greatest restaurant in my landscape. Go eat there while you can!! I sure hope my kid gets to pop the “big bread”(lavash) for years to come.