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Review: Beyond kebab; Meyhouse’s unique Turkish flavors

Pastirmali Humus — $18  — Hummus topped with butter-poached beef pastirma. (Photo: Sophia Yang)

Featuring smoky charred chicken, fish cooked on the spot, and eggplant smothered in creamy yogurt, Meyhouse, a high-end Turkish restaurant, opened Aug. 9 in downtown Palo Alto, adding an innovative new explosion of flavor to the local dining scene. 

The opening of Meyhouse brings the experience of a Turkish meyhane, a traditional place of gathering with wine and food, to the Bay Area. The name of the restaurant was was derived from the word “meyhane”, with “mey” meaning wine and “hane” meaning house. The food felt homely, but the fine-dining feel of restaurant detracted from the goal of emulating the humble authenticity. 

Hanging lights cast soft, yellow glows throughout the restaurant and the rich, crooning Turkish melodies playing in the background made for an intimate atmosphere amid the bustle of the servers rushing to and fro. Coupled with the high ceilings and leafy plants present, the restaurant has an elegant yet homely feel. 

According to general manager Refet Tugay, Meyhouse opened with the intention of bringing a high-end angle to the Turkish dining scene in the United States.

“We basically wanted to show true Turkish cuisine to the Bay Area because almost every Turkish restaurant here is kebab-focused,” Tugay said. “But we wanted to show the true Meyhane culture.” 

Upon first entering the restaurant, there was a large glass divider featuring an assortment of freshly-caught fish above ice with an opportunity for guests to see the chefs prepare the fish firsthand. The seafood focus of the restaurant was a feature Tugay said echoed the Meyhane culture.  

“Meyhane is more seafood-focused, hence there’s a fish display at the entrance,” Tugay said.  “What you can do is you can go there [to the display] and say ‘I want that specific fish.’ We flag it while you’re working with your starters, and we clean it for when the time comes with grilling.”

The restaurant evidently had an older clientele with mostly adults and an occasional family or two. The prices are more on the expensive side compared to other Turkish restaurants since the dishes are more aligned with the standards of fine dining.

The service was phenomenal the entire time, with waiters periodically checking in to refill water, wipe down tables, and change plates in between courses. Our food was served after a short 12-minute wait, and the newly opened restaurant was packed with excited customers. They brought and later refilled a plate of complimentary pita at the beginning of the meal, which was deliciously soft and fluffy, coming with a tangy dipping sauce of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Mercimekli Karniyarik — $32 — Roasted eggplant stuffed with green lentils, dried mint and tomato wedges, and served on top of tomato sauce with browned butter and garlic yogurt. (Photo: Sophia Yang)

We sat down for dinner Sunday evening, and this is what we found: 

Pastirmali Humus – $18 – (8/10)

An appetizer consisting of warm hummus topped with butter-poached and house-cured beef pastirma, the pastirmali humus was a delicious start to the meal. Rich and creamy without being overpowering, the hummus dip paired wonderfully with the complimentary pita that came with the meal. The thin slices of beef on top were smoky and flavorful, and while the beef was a tad salty on its own, it was a problem easily fixed by the pillowy pockets of pita. 

Çemenli Tavuk – $33 – (9/10)

Meyhouse’s Çemenli Tavuk featured organic chicken thighs marinated in yogurt and fenugreek served over toasted orzo. Accompanied by slices of tomato and garnished with herbs, the chicken was lightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside, with the marinade adding a hearty flavor profile. The orzo had a light, herby flavor that went well with the rich flavors of the chicken.

Çemenli Tavuk — $33 — Chicken thigh marinated with yogurt-fenugreek over toasted orzo. (Photo: Sophia Yang)

Mercimekli Karniyarik – $32 – (9.5/10)

A traditional Turkish dish, the Mercimekli Karniyarik was half an oven-roasted eggplant paired with green lentils and dried mint. The eggplant was served amidst a bed of tomato sauce and browned butter topped with a large dollop of garlic yogurt. The dish was roasted to perfection and tender that it seemed to melt in our mouths. The tangy tomato sauce and fresh mint helped to balance out the rich flavor of the browned butter. The symphony of flavors made the dish one of our favorites, providing for a decadent experience while not being too greasy or overpowering. The only critique for the dish would be that the edges of the eggplant had bits that were tough and fibrous that were inedible.

Profiterol — $16— Cream-filled pastry drizzled in dark chocolate sauce topped with crumbled pistachio. (Photo: Sophia Yang)

Profiterol – $16 – (8/10) 

Although no dessert was included on the menu, our waitress listed a variety of options, from sweet baklava soaked in syrup to cheesy knafeh. We chose the profiterol, a dish composed of four cream puffs drenched in a decadent dark chocolate sauce and pistachio bits sprinkled on top. The cream puffs were light and airy with a buttery exterior complemented by the dark notes of chocolate. However, the ratio of chocolate to pastry was on the higher side, so there was a lot of leftover chocolate in the end that was too rich to be finished on its own. 

We had an amazing experience dining at Meyhouse. The unique dishes, bold and harmonious flavors and friendliness of the staff created a lovely environment that raises the bar for Turkish restaurants in Palo Alto.

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About the Contributors
Sophia Yang
Sophia Yang, Senior Staff Writer
Sophia Yang (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her sophomore year and enjoys running, hiking, and spending long afternoons reading.
Celina Lee
Celina Lee, Editor-in-Chief

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