Anatolia Grill and Bar, Turkish Cuisine

October 19, 2013 20 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article Talking Turkish Cuisine with Helin Ercan of Anatolia Grill and Bar

Lasagna Bolognese

Talking Turkish Cuisine with Helin Ercan of Anatolia Grill and Bar

1. Tell us about Anatolia Grill & Bar.

Anatolia is a Turkish, Mediterranean, and Italian restaurant. Almost everything we serve is home made in our kitchen so that it's always fresh. Our menu is very large and diverse so we have a lot for people to try. If you've never had Turkish food before then you're in for a treat.

2. Why did you combine those 3 cuisines at Anatolia?

Although our Turkish and Mediterranean food is what sets us apart we also wanted to have some dishes that were more familiar to an American audience. From our previous restaurants we had seen a lot of demand for pasta dishes, so we thought "why not?" Europe is very close to our home country of Turkey and we were already very familiar with Italian cooking, so adding some Italian dishes at Anatolia was easy to do and made a lot of sense.

We have many customers who first come in to try our Italian food. When they find out how much they like it they become excited to come back and try some of our Turkish or Mediterranean dishes. So it's a good way to introduce people to food they may not initially think to try.

People also like to try different things and having lots of variety on the menu gives them a lot of options to explore.

3. How long have you owned Anatolia?

Anatolia has been open since 2011 and we took it over in July of 2013.

4. What attracted you to Anatolia?

We've always been in the restaurant business. When we came to Jacksonville in 2012 we looked around at our options to open a restaurant here. We ended up looking closely at two Turkish restaurants and Anatolia fit our style the best, and that's what appealed to us.

5. Why did you decide to buy an existing restaurant instead of starting your own from scratch?

We had done our own restaurant before and it's really expensive. When I saw this restaurant I loved the ambiance and the setup as it was.

Home made bread and olive oil

6. Did you make any big changes to the menu when you took over Anatolia?

We've kept the previous items and expanded the menu to add some more dishes such as Zucchini Pancakes, Shepherd's Salad and the Beyti Kebab.

7. Why do you have such big portions? Is that typical of Turkish restaurants?

It's important to us that our customers feel good about the food and the value we're providing. We don't want people to leave and think they aren't satisfied or didn't get something fair from us. People can always share an appetizer or dessert. Or they can take home their leftovers, which a lot of people do.

8. Where does the name of your restaurant come from?

Anatolia is the earlier name of what is now the modern Republic of Turkey.

9. How is Turkish food prepared and served?

Turkish food is meant to be very healthy and light tasting. We prepare our meats with flavorful seasonings instead of oils, breading or heavy sauces. When we add a sauce to meat it is often made with a light, garlicky yogurt to complement the meat. We also cook with a lot of healthy vegetables such as mushrooms and eggplant. Our home made dough is served very thin so that the other ingredients don't get lost in a lot of bread. When we serve the meat dish it's normally done with a side of rice, vegetables or salad. We like to serve good portion sizes but we don't want the food itself to feel heavy.

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