The Tallahassee restaurant will be opening in KitchenShare in Frenchtown.
I’m happy to tell you that an authentic Turkish restaurant will be opening soon in Tallahassee. Dondu Dogru will be launching Blue Turkey at KitchenShare in the Frenchtown Heritage Hub at 524 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.
The restaurant opened briefly for a soft opening with family and friends and will officially be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, starting Jan. 21. Look for dishes that chef Dondu calls “modern Turkish cuisine.”
“I’m really excited about it,” said Dondu, who is launching the restaurant with an administrative assist from her husband, Tarik, who teaches in the Dedman College of Hospitality at Florida State University. “We will be doing special things every time and we will serve really fresh, healthy food with a lot of flavor.”
The Dogrus met in college and moved from Turkey to the United States a few years ago while Tarik pursued his doctorate. The parents of two small children, Dondu is originally from Cappadocia in central Turkey and Tarik is from the ancient, Southern city of Antioch.
While I don’t know of any restaurants that specialize in Turkish cuisine, you’ll find similarities with Greek and other Middle Eastern fare though each country has its own unique flavors and features.
The menu will be minimal at first but include appetizers or mezzes dubbed “All the Polite” with grilled eggplant mixed with yogurt or “Red Fire,” a dish melding “a mix of crushed vegetables: cucumber, tomato, onion and mix of spices served with pita chips.”
Consider doner a Turkish version of the gyro or shawarma. The doner kebab has become popular beyond Turkey and is served in Berlin and European cities. Blue Turkey will offer a doner chicken wrap as well as a Berlin-style doner made with steak a mix of French fries, lettuce, red cabbage, onion, tomato and pickle dill served with a side of chef’s signature sauces: “red sweet chili pepper and yummy beetsy,” and pita chips.
One of the vegan dishes here is known as cig or chee kofta, which Tarik likes to call the Space Shuttle for its fire and shape. The name Blue Turkey is also a bit of whimsy from the couple.
For Dondu and Tarik, KitchenShare is the perfect way to introduce a new restaurant. The site is a certified communal kitchen set up to help launch entrepreneurs.
Tarik said he and his wife will be renting space there “to get to know the market and buld up a customer base.”
They expected to launch in March 2020 but put their plans on hold due to the pandemic. Since they are dealing with takeout and delivery (through a third party), they decided to give it a try.
For Dondu, opening a restaurant “is a dream come true.”
On their website, she says that “Growing up, I was the de facto sous-chef at home helping the executive chef, my mother. While I was learning the key components of cooking during my informal training, I also learned that the essentials of cooking go beyond the ingredients and instructions.
“A quality meal is prepared with respect, love, and care for food, culture, and people. My family roots in Turkey and Turkish culture have served as the foundation of my interest for food and cooking, and my interest in food evolved into a strong passion to create inspirational recipes rooted in tradition and blended with respect, love, and care for food, culture, and people.
“At Blue Turkey Restaurant, we serve modern Turkish food inspired by authentic recipes passed down through generations and blended with prominent Turkish hospitality that will be craved for by everyone.”
If you go …
Blue Turkey, inside KitchenShare in the Frenchtown Heritage Hub, 524 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Hours: Blue Turkey will open Thursdays and Fridays starting Jan. 21, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.