Though Goat Hill Pizza is still going strong at the corner of 18th and Connecticut streets, there have been many changes in Potrero Hill’s gourmet scene, including a shoe store turning into a Mexican restaurant (Papito), a Thai restaurant into a fusion Japanese restaurant (Rocketfish), an oft-changing location going upscale Vietnamese (Sunflower), and the sugary and mediocre Chinese restaurant Eliza’s being replaced by a very fine Turkish restaurant – Pera.
I loved the food when I was in Turkey. If you don’t like eggplant, you’d better like lamb if you’re going to eat there. At Pera, unlike in Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey, one may eat very well without ordering anything with either lamb or eggplant. I, however, ordered lamb at Pera and found it succulent.
I ordered the Sultan’s Delight: hunkar begendi ($16), which is roasted lamb with garlic, onions and an herbed tomato sauce served on a bed of eggplant purée with some cubed potato. As I mentioned, the lamb was delicious.
My partner chose the Pera talas boregi ($16), curried smoked chicken breast baked in triangular phyllo dough, served on a thick coconut-curry sauce with currants and slivers of apple atop the boregi. It sounds like there was a lot going on in the dish, but it looked and tasted scrumptious. High-quality as the components were, the total effect was more than the sum of the parts.
There are also beef, prawn and salmon entrées; and Ravioli a la Turca – homemade ravioli pasta stuffed with portabella mushroom and served with marinara sauce and feta cheese.
I got phyllo both in an appetizer, borek (spanakopita in Greek, sometimes called “spinach pie” in English) ($7.50), and in dessert, baklava ($8).
Not only did everything taste just right, the presentation of each dish was impressive. Chef Muhammet Culha is a master and can give the tiny and popular French bistro next door, Chez Papa, a run for its money – for less money. Dining in Pera is definitely more relaxed than in its cramped neighbor to the east.
The serving staff was charming and attentive without seeming at all obsequious. Our waiter was helpful and friendly, and we felt very comfortable. Dinner there was almost as good as being back in Turkey. The restaurant is a very welcome newcomer to the Potrero Hill (it’s been open about nine months).
Pera is on the south side of 18th Street, east of Connecticut Street at 1457 18th St. The restaurant’s phone number is 415-796-3812, and the website can be found at www.PeraSF.com.
Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner is served daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Beer and wine are served. The restaurant is wheelchair-accessible.