Mavi + Interview
Mavi Chicago + Interview
2833 N Broadway, Chicago IL, 60657
Mavi restaurant in Lakeview specializes in Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. My friend Vic happens to be friends with one of the owners, and suggested we check it out. I wasn't sure what Turkish food was like exactly but I do know I'm totally down with general Mediterranean, so he didn't have to twist my arm too much. :P On a nice day you can sit outside or they also open the windows to a beautiful area in the front:
Better wear cute socks, I personally suggest ones with pandas or foxes on them (yes I actually have these) because No Shoes Allowed in this gorgeous space. Water + bread was brought out to dip in olive oil, and before I go on CHECK OUT THE TABLE. If you want an Instagram-worthy food shot, CHECK OUT THIS TABLE, IT'S SO FRICKIN COOL.
We started with the Lentil Soup and Hummus:
"Sooooo good. I love this shit," Vic announces, squeezing lemon into his bowl. I taste a hint of mint, and agree with his sentiment. This shit is Very Good. I copy him and squeeze lemon into mine too. It was amazing! Totally cut through to enhance the flavor. The hummus was also delicious, very creamy and smooth, I recommend asking for more lemons to squeeze in!
"Yummy, the veggie hummus option looked good too," I mention to the waiter who is by the way very friendly and informative. This off-hand comment is a CRUCIAL FOREHADOWING for my visit as you will see. But first, we follow with the Chicken Shish Kabab plate:
The chicken was tender, the sauce had a mild flavor and I liked the size of the chunks it was cut into. In case you were wondering (even though I'm sure you're probably not) I have this weird thing about the pieces my food is cut into. (FYI I liked the size of the bread chunks too, haha!) If the pieces are too big or too small it sometimes puts me off, I'm not sure why exactly?? O_o Anyways! I wish the salad had come with some sort of dressing, although the yogurt sauce that came with more than made up for it. I don't have a pic of the yogurt but you aren't missing much visually: just a little tub of white yogurt sauce but HOLY HELL it was good! There was just something about it I really liked, and ended up trying to dip everything on our table into the little tub. They use two sorts of yogurt for this so maybe that's the secret, or maybe I was just crazily in love with yogurt sauce that day. *shrugs* For lunch I felt this was a good portion.
But hey Mel, you interrupt. What is that third dish in the corner you haven't talked about yet? Well, friend, that is the Veggie Hummus. After hearing my comment the waiter brought this out for us to try anyways, and WOW. I'm so glad he did! If you like veggies (like me!) and if you like hummus (like meeeee!!) then YOU GET THIS, YOU GET THIS RIGHT NOW. It was sooooo good. The sauteed vegetables over the hummus paired together perfectly, and the raisin/almonds on top added a great hit of extra flavor. When I got home and looked at my phone I laughed because I realized I had taken about a bazillion pictures of my favorite dish. Let's hope if I have children I love them all equally because the favortism here was so apparent it was sad.
Last up was dessert, even though by then we were both so, so full. But I had never had Kazandibi before, and refused to live such a life any longer! Kazandibi is described on the Mavi menu as "a caramel based pudding, similar to creme brulee", almost like a flan. ORDER THIS TOO. The burnt sugar taste was delicious, but the texture was also very smooth and pleasing. The cinnamon ice cream is a summer thing only, but really the star here is the Kazandibi. So, soooo good! Also, I really like the word Kazandibi and want to try and work it in at least five times into this paragraph...Kazandibi.
Also! The owner of Mavi, Aaron Bilgin, took a few minutes to sit down with us and chat. This man is charming, super super funny! You can tell he loves his food and loves the people who come here to eat it, and someone like that is always fun to talk to.
Why did you choose to focus on Mediterranean/Turkish cuisine?
I believe that it's just really good food! The culture as well, very simple, healthy food.
What are some of your favorites on the menu?
The red meat, we have very good beef shish kabobs. But at the same time, the veggie hummus! These days, everyone is cautious about eating healthy. Mediterranean culture is mostly about healthy food, so there are so many things on this menu to try.
If you had to be reincarnated as a menu item in the next life, what would you be and why?
The veggie couscous...Lots of veggies with incredibly good tomato! The couscous is steamed, very colorful and very healthy!
The seating area and decor here is very, very cool! Where did you get the inspiration for it all?
I was looking for something different, something very romantic...
Romantic, huh! Have you ever had any marriage proposals here?
Yes, last year it happened! Also a couple met for the first time here, then came back for the anniversary. This is a great place for a first date: beautiful girl, beautiful wine! *laughs* Girls love these things! We are also very vegan friendly for the vegans and vegetarians out there.
Are you required to take your shoes off to sit in this area?
Yes, shoes are required, but only shoes please! Haha!
Favorite guilty pleasure food?
Any last words?
*Laughs* Last words! Am I dying? Haha. It's a great feeling giving people healthy options with good food! Are those good last words??
Thanks for having chatting Aaron and having such delicious food Mavi! I'll definitely be back! Veggie Hummus I am coming for you! If any of you decide to visit I'd love to hear your thoughts!