So Far, So Good

The Cuisine: Turkish
The Place: Sofram

Turkey was once the seat of an empire, a land of imperial sophistication where East and West crossed paths. A meal at Sofram only hints at this rich history, but its menu blends European and Middle Eastern influence with confidence and subtlety. Charlotte’s only Turkish restaurant is surprisingly upscale—throw pillows, raw silk, and carved wood complement a chic modernist décor. While inexpensive by south Charlotte standards, the menu targets a different demographic than many ethnic eateries do. Dishes like penne pasta and shrimp seem designed to reassure less adventurous patrons. Even the marvelous chicken sauté, seasoned with capers and lemon, bears a striking resemblance to that Italian-American standby, chicken piccata.

Appetizers include Mediterranean favorites like hummus and dolma, as well as less familiar items. The tomato and lentil ezogelin soup is wonderfully mellow, with a spicy edge. The ingredients of imambayildi (cold roast eggplant stuffed with sweet peppers, pine nuts, garlic, and onion) harmonize without overpowering each other. Among entrées, tender, succulent lamb kebab and adana (ground lamb) kebab are standouts. Musakka, a mushy vegetarian eggplant stew served over rice, is plain in taste and presentation. Our servers were friendly and glad to answer questions, but overlooked some details—the miniature oil lamp on our table remained unlit throughout our evening meal. Homemade baklava is tender, gooey, and spiced with cinnamon, while Turkish coffee lives up to its reputation for being sweet, sludgy, and incredibly strong.

The restaurant owners have created a reason to visit nearly every night of the week. Döner, the Turkish version of gyro, is available on Friday and Saturday nights, plus there’s belly dancing on Thursdays and Turkish folk music on Wednesdays. Introducing a new cuisine to a region means balancing authenticity with market demands—a restaurant must first captivate, then educate. So far, Sofram is succeeding.

8652 Pineville-Matthews Rd. (704-302-1181) $-$$, L, D, BW. Open Monday through Saturday.

Categories: Food + Drink, Global Table, Restaurant Reviews