Kosher restaurants fall into two absolutely separate categories: those that serve meat, and those that don’t. Virtually all New Yorkers have at least a passing acquaintance with kosher-style meats like corned beef and pastrami, and outside of New York, restaurants will even refer to those delicacies as “New York-style.”
But when it comes to the other category, often referred to dairy restaurants, there is a lesser degree of familiarity by the larger community. I am always looking for something different to try, so when I ran into an acquaintance who happens to adhere to the laws of Kashruth, I pressed her for a recommendation. Turquoise Kosher Fish Restaurant in Fresh Meadows was the name that fell from her lips.
Turquoise is an attractively turned out dairy restaurant with the emphasis on things that swim (and have scales, I might add). The space feels light and airy, with high stepped ceilings and crisp white table linen. The staff is welcoming, and service efficient. The problem is the food.
We had to wonder if the mageach (kosher inspector) is also a cardiologist, forbidding fats and salt with the same vehemence as trayf.
The menu is Mediterranean-influenced, with eggplant, tahini, tzaziki, and the like leading the list of apps. We tried Whole Fire Roasted Eggplant with Tahini. The split eggplant was roasted and served with a parsimonious shmear of tahini and a scattering of chick peas. The eggplant was nicely done, but cried out for some salt, pepper, and maybe even a judicious amount of olive oil.
Sushi salad sounded intriguing. What arrived was a mound of iceberg lettuce draped with julienned carrots, cukes and shreds of some kind of cooked fish described as yellowtail. There were cubes of raw salmon, and a sliced avocado. The salad was allegedly dressed with a soy vinaigrette, but the only evidence was a brown puddle left at the bottom of the bowl. A bottle of reduced-sodium soy sauce was brought to the table. The fish was of mediocre quality, and everything was pretty tasteless.
“Try the fish and chips,” my fat cells pleaded with me. The fish (there was a choice of tilapia or flounder—we ordered flounder, but it could have been tilapia) was ever so lightly breaded and pan fried until stiff and dry. The previously frozen fries were passable. Ketchup was proffered, but no tartar sauce.
We asked for our sesame seared tuna rare because that’s how we like it. It doesn’t mean that they should forget about the word “seared” in the title. The sesame crust on my tuna was still whitish when they brought it, not brown and crusty like it should have been. It was served sliced, so we declined their offer of returning it to grill. It came with the same insipid soy vinaigrette as the sushi salad.
We have to give credit where credit is due. Dessert, something called biscuit cake, was delish. It was sort of tiramisu-ish, light, yet creamy.
Turquoise is not an inexpensive venue for what amounts to bad spa cuisine. Eat here if you’re trying to lose weight, have cardio concerns, or you’re starving, strictly kosher and have no other options. The atmosphere is pleasant and you’ll enjoy dessert.
Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.” She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turquoise Kosher Fish Restaurant
189-23 Union Turnpike
Fresh Meadows, NY.
Price Range: Appetizers: $7—15, Entrees: $26—32 Early bird 3 course $21 (Must be seated by 5:30)
Cuisine: Kosher fish
Setting: Expansive, modern, comfortable.
Service: Friendly and professional.
Hours: Sunday–Thursday: 12:00 noon – 11:00 pm, Closed Friday, Saturday: Reopen 1 hour after sundown
Alcohol: Kosher wines
Dress: Casual to dressy
Credit cards: Yes
Noise level: Acceptable
Handicap accessible: Yes
©2012 Community News Group
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