Newly opened on Grand Boulevard, Sheesh offers authentic Turkish cuisine in an exotic setting. Oriental rugs, tasseled curtains and pendant oil lamps add to the ambiance. The menu offerings are halal Middle Eastern fare like kebabs, grilled fish and lamb shank, plus an array of spreads and salads. Flavors are mild, with garlic, lemon, mint, sumac and olive oil dominating. You can’t go wrong starting with the Vegetable Combo ($10), a generous portion of humus, baba ghanouj, falafel and stuffed grape leaves (sarma), served with a large piece of Turkish bread.

The spreads here are exemplary and rely more on texture and the natural buttery flavor of eggplant and chickpeas than on spices. The baba ghanouj, topped with bright pomegranate seeds, has a wonderful smoky flavor imparted during the grilling process. The humus is flavored with lemon. Our falafel were delicious, thickcrusted and crunchy, but without an oily texture or taste. And the sarma, grape leaves stuffed with rice, parsley and spices, were tender and not the least bit bitter.

Especially good was the Hamsi ($12) a pile of tiny, whole, fresh anchovies well-spiced and covered with a cornmeal-type fried coating. These were very flavorful and not at all greasy. They came with a large plateful of couscous that was quite buttery tasting and a pool of lemony humus. Also noteworthy is the special soup, Ezogelin ($5), which is a mix of red lentils, bulgur wheat, rice, mint and Turkish spices. It’s a broth, but with a little bit of pureed texture and an excellent straight-from-mom’s-kitchen character.

Kebabs and lamb dominate the meat and fish entrees. Alinazik Kebab ($16) is the traditional ground lamb pressed into a long strip, seasoned and grilled. It’s tasty, with a rich, fatty undertone, but if you prefer grilled cubes of lamb, that can be had only in the Sheesh Kebab ($16). The Sheesh Kebab is delicious, very well spiced, each cube grilled to yield a pleasant outside crust.

Dishes that come on top of rice are called biryani here. We ordered the lamb version ($16), which was a little tired looking and tasting, as it was a Tuesday night—most likely slow-cooked meats are made fresh in preparation for the busy weekend, not on Tuesday (lesson learned). The lamb shank sat on a large mound of spiced rice dotted with raisins, chickpeas and shaved carrot. The accompanying yogurt sauce was refreshing, with minty, dilly flavors.

Fish lovers should not miss the Fish Kebab ($18), very well-spiced chunks of swordfish presented over couscous, which is itself a good dish. The small grains were mixed with an equal part of what looked like tiny lentils and tangy capers for an earthy, butter-tossed treat. The marinated fish, accompanied by a spicy green sauce, was fresh with great flavor.

One downside: service is very slow; this is a family-run business with few servers, some of them teens. Sometimes, this just comes with the territory.

The desserts we tasted were good, along the lines of traditional Greek sweets. The baklava was dense, with chopped nuts and a buttery rich mouthfeel. It didn’t have the dripping-honey flavor I’m used to, or the notes of cardamom, but was excellent nonetheless. Kadaifi, a square of shredded wheat laced with a few whole pistachios and steeped in honey, also was good.

amuse bouche
the scene | 
Attractive Turkish restaurant
the prices | $5 to $10 starters, $13 to $20 entrees
the chef | Safa Marmarchi
the favorites | Baba Ghanouj, Humus, Hamsi, Sheesh Kebab, Ezogelin Soup, Fish Kebab, Baklava, Kadaifi

OTT-Sheesh_Marmarchi_3chef chat » safa marmarchi
why open at this location  | It’s a very international area, full of different types of restaurants. I thought a Turkish restaurant would fit in well here.
favourite dish on the menu | Pistachio kebab
which dish should diners absolutely not miss | Iskender kebab
favourite St Louis restaurant |Saffron
most memorable dining experience | Ikpal in my hometown of Afyon, Turkey. All my family would go there.

3226 s. grand blvd. | 314. 833.4321

Photos: Bill Barrett