Supersize Me

Aya Sofia is a most delicious way to blow your diet

There are only two desserts, but that's more than enough. The phyllo contained in the four tiny pieces of baklava seems there merely to lend the pastry some structure; this baklava is a fortress of pistachios and honey, which ooze out the sides when you pick up a piece. Rice pudding, simple and perfect, is served in a little porridge cup with a thick, mild pudding skin on top that makes the dessert come off almost like a crème brûlée.

To look at Aya Sofia from the outside, there's little indication that such abundance awaits within. It's a wooden box of a building, painted a drab gray, that used to house a toasted rav-slinging Italian joint. Yildiz has jazzed up the one-room dining space to the max — it could be photographed for the cover of the spring Pier 1 catalog. Curtained-off booths, their frameworks draped by swaths of glossy, fringed maroon fabric, run along two of the walls, which are painted a cream color on top but lined with a metallic-gold brickwork façade on the bottom. The ceiling fans' light fixtures are studded with stained-glass mosaic. Smartly, the tables themselves are outfitted in simple, stark white tablecloths with dark wooden chairs, preventing the look from spilling over into gypsy kitsch. Instead the décor ends up somewhere between the cartoonishness of Aladdin and the opulent elegance of the Topkapi Palace Museum.

Not only did I indulge in a couple of dessertinis (I just had to try them: They were mixed with Turkish coffee; served cold, they taste like any other mochatini, served hot, it's like drinking gasoline fumes), but I even went against my general rule to drink only calorie-free water or seltzer. Ayran I consider to be the Marmite of Turkish culinary curios: You might have to be a native to appreciate a plain yogurt smoothie dashed with table salt. I still can't say whether I enjoyed it, but I did find myself sipping it throughout the meal. I practically guzzled the meyva suyu, a fruit drink of peach tea and sour cherry and apple juices.

Turkish delight: Mehmet Yildiz's scrumptious food might lead to some belt-loosening.
Jennifer Silverberg
Turkish delight: Mehmet Yildiz's scrumptious food might lead to some belt-loosening.

Location Info

Map

Aya Sofia

6671 Chippewa St.
St. Louis, MO 63109

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: St. Louis - St. Louis Hills

Details

Tabuli $4
Piyaz $5
Iskender $15
Baklava $4

Aya Sofia
6671 Chippewa Street; 314-645-9919. Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tue.-Fri. Dinner 5-10 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5-9 p.m. Sun.

Wear elastic-waist pants when you go.

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