A culinary adventure awaits at Pasha Grill

Some restaurants have the ability to transport you — it’s not just a change of pace; it’s an expedition for all of your senses.

Not surprisingly, my favorite moments have taken place in ethnic restaurants. When unfamiliar scents, delicious decor, and sumptuous flavors come together in a dreamy combination, I find myself in a foreign land far from the parking lot that I ventured in from.

Pasha Grill at The Greene Town Center is one of these places locally for me.

It opened in November 2008, billing itself as “Authentic Turkish Cuisine” with heavy Eastern Mediterranean influence — — and not much has changed since then.

The menu may look intimidating to the unfamiliar, but knowing that the restaurant’s grilled meats (lamb, beef and chicken) are marinated with vegetable oil, oregano mints, plain yogurt, black peppers, tomato paste, Turkish pepper paste, lemon, paprika salt, garlic and onions and cooked until tender is the No. 1 reason to venture into new territory.

As a bonus, it’s a reasonably priced adventure with dinners including traditional kebabs made with lamb, beef, chicken, fish and shrimp ranging in price from $14-27.

Standout items include Doner (Gyro) a vertical rotisserie grilled beef/lamb mix that is hand-carved ($15), Lahana Sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls, $16), the swordfish kebab ($19), a grilled Mediterranean sea bass served whole ($22) and a delicious Mousakka ($15), which is like a Turkish lasagna with tender minced beef and lamb layered between thinly sliced eggplant and topped with Béchamel sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Many of the traditional dishes served are made with eggplant. Highlights include Karniyarik ($15), a stuffed eggplant stuffed with seasoned ground beef, ground lamb, chopped tomatoes, green peppers and herbs and Turlu ($14), a delicious and heart healthy vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, mushrooms, garlic and green beans. Almost all the food is prepared from scratch daily including the restaurants homemade bread.

The enticing menu is vegetarian and food allergy friendly and everything seems to be served up in generous portions. The Mercimek Corba (lentil soup, $5) is a refreshing, healthy treat that is a rare encounter on restaurant menus locally.

The restaurant’s lunch served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is one of the best values around. For $10 you get a starter, an entree and a dessert.

Several dishes at dinner are large enough to share for an exciting culinary adventure including the cold appetizer sampler, a combination of hummus (puréed chickpeas mixed with garlic, Tahini, fresh lemon juice and olive oil), Ezme (chopped tomatoes, onions and hot peppers mixed in olive oil and herbs), Baba Ganoush (smoked eggplant flavored with Tahini, olive oil and garlic), Haydari (yogurt with dill, mint and garlic), Tabuli (cracked wheat mixed with tomatoes, sweet onions, fresh peppers, olive oil and parsley), eggplant with tomato sauce, stuffed grape leaves and pinto bean salad, ($18 for the small serving for 1-3 people or large serving for 3-5 people for $25). The generous Mixed Grill Kebab ($27) features half portions of succulent chicken, donor, adana and shish kebabs and could easily feed two or three with the addition of some appetizers.

The Keskul almond pudding dessert topped with pistachios and cream ($6) is a confection worthy of finishing off this wonderful meal. Order up a Turkish coffee to go along with it and savor the finish.

“It is an ethnic food, however our food is not really unfamiliar with American taste. One can easily find the ingredients used to create our dishes at the local grocery store. The difference is with how they are prepared,” said Alex Saki, the restaurant’s friendly owner and manager who is often there to greet guests and make them feel at home.

Saki previously worked for Café Istanbul — another excellent Turkish restaurant located at Easton Town Center in Columbus — for seven years prior to opening Pasha Grill.

The enchanting and charming Pasha Grill has ambiance in spades. Massive old-world-esque chandeliers greet you as you walk through the doorway with a dining room flanked by arches leading to semi-private seating areas that are tucked away decorated with Turkish rugs, wall plates and scenes of Turkey.

The knowledgeable wait staff is happy to guide everyone from the uninitiated to the familiar making the experience accessible to anyone willing to venture in and try something new.

With warmer weather on the way and a beautiful 50-person patio just beyond the doors, an outstanding meal is about to get even better at Pasha Grill.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and food adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.