Yalıkavak's celebrated meatballs: Kavaklı Köfteci
BODRUM - Hürriyet Daily News | 7/30/2010 12:00:00 AM | MİNA ERÇEL
Kavaklı Köfteci is Bodrum's, and particularly Yalıkavak's, prime destination for köfte. With a limited menu serving only juicy, tender meatballs to locals and tourists alike, this casual institution packs in a tight crowd every night
Anyone who walks around Yalıkavak’s main shopping street on any given night during the summer is guaranteed to notice Kavaklı Köfteci, which stands out among the tourist traps and apart-hotels on the main strip.
Kavaklı Köfteci doesn’t serve alcohol, has no décor to speak of, has crude, rushed service and offers no trendy menu items. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t even have a menu; when curious first-timers ask for it, the waiters just cite the four options offered, two meat dishes, köfte (meatballs) and çöp şiş (grilled, skewered meat), and two side dishes, salad and piyaz (bean salad).
[HH] Long lines of locals
What really distinguishes Kavaklı Köfteci from every other joint in the area is the fact that the restaurant is consistently filled with locals, who line up around the restaurant after about 9 p.m. The reason for the lines is simple: Kavaklı Köfteci has been offering honest, tasty, no-nonsense grub for almost 20 years and serves both vacationers and local small-business owners.
When one finally manages to get a table, skip the çöp şiş and salad and go straight for the köfte and piyaz. As alcohol isn’t served, ayran, a savory yogurt-based drink, is the most common accompaniment to a meal.
The service is very fast at Kavaklı and the food typically arrives within minutes of ordering. The piyaz, a salad made of white beans, onions, tomatoes, parsley and hard-boiled egg, garnished with oil and vinegar, is nothing special but makes a fine compliment to the köfte. The namesake dish is what makes the restaurant so famous. The finger-sized lamb meatballs are perfectly grilled, juicy and well-seasoned; they are best served with oregano, cumin, and hot pepper, which sit conveniently on the table along with oil and vinegar for the piyaz. Simple garnishes of grilled tomato slices and a grilled pepper allow the köfte’s flavor to shine through, in Kavaklı’s minimalist style. To sop up the juices, fantastic grilled pita bread is brought to the table shortly after ordering. The pita is cut down the middle and placed on the grill where the köfte is cooked to absorb its flavor, giving a delicious twist to an otherwise basic accompaniment.
[HH] Focus on one item
With no alcohol, no diversity in menu options, no atmosphere and rushed service, Kavaklı Köfteci puts a successful philosophy at the forefront of its business: do one thing and do it well. The lines reaching around the restaurant on a nightly basis are a clear indication of the success of this philosophy. The best bet for no waiting is to show up for a weekday lunch. But even at Kavaklı’s fullest, tables will open within a 15-minute wait.
Dessert is not available here for the sole reason that customers remember the taste of the köfte and not the aftertaste of a sweet dessert. Prices are about 10 Turkish Liras for a portion of köfte and 2 liras for a drink.
Address: Çarşı içi Yalıkavak, Bodrum
Tel: 0252 385 47 48