Anyone can be forgiven for being nostalgic about the old Anatolia Cafe

Anyone can be forgiven for being nostalgic about the old Anatolia Cafe.

Its founder, Hasmet Aslan, was genteel and disarming, and was prone to play Turkish folk songs on the baglama.

But Aslan pulled up stakes a few years ago and took his artisan rungs and hand-crafted stringed instruments with him back to his native country. His long-time chef, Fatih Gunal, went on to open
Cafe Shish Kebab on Bethel Road and later purchased Cafe Istanbul in Easton.

For a time, Turkish fare was flourishing in central Ohio, a trend that has somewhat abated with the closings of Turkish Cuisine in the University District and Bistro Topkapi in Powell.

The good news is that Anatolia now owned by the enthusiastic Ali Elmas, who also is chef is still charming, the small space intimate and warm. The food, in some cases, is superb, particularly the lamacun ($9.99), a hard-to-find dish in central Ohio. It involves ground lamb shoulder, spread across discs or rectangles of homemade flatbread, cooked to crispy. The lamb mixture is punched up with sweet paprika, chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper and parsley. It's as robust as it sounds, a dramatic blend of pungent seasonings. The lemony tabouleh ($8.25 for a generous portion)
also was superb, with onion, parsley and a light tomato sauce for an acidic dimension.

Freshly made doner, the Turkish equivalent of gyro meat, is available each Sunday.

Anatolia Cafe is located at 1097 Worthington Woods Blvd.

It's a name that's not necessarily suited to the refined cuisine at Rigsby's, but the "blue plate" special rocks.

The $10 meal is offered at lunch only at the restaurant, 698 N. High St. in the Short North. Patrons get a choice of pasta, half sandwich and either soup or Caesar salad for $10. Not only is it a bargain, there's no propensity to dumb it down. Pasta fagiole is rustic with white beans, pancetta, assorted vegetables and macaroni cooked to the right degree. With the salad, whole leaves of fresh romaine are presented in a stack, seasoned with salt, pepper, flakes of Parmesan and a light dressing. The croutons are the crispiest thing this side of the Nabisco factory.

Of the pasta choices, the spaghetti with meatballs is a classic, the polpette studded with pine nuts and currants for dimension. Again, the pasta doesn't suffer overcooking and the tomato sauce is
pleasant but unassertive.

Of the few sandwich choices, the mortadella is a winner. A thinly sliced pork cold cut with much more depth and flavor than American baloney, it's garnished with pungent whole grain mustard and
served on toasted house bread. It's served with house-prepared potato chips that are thick and non-greasy.

And that bread It's baked across the street at the Eleni-Christina Bakery, a sister operation. Don't pass on the sourdough.

As for the "express" part of the lunch, it took us every bit of an hour. That gave us time to sip iced tea, chat and allow us to bask in the glow of our excellent lunch decision.


Happiness is a meal rolled up into a ball.

The folks at North Market Poultry & Game are taking spherical-shaped food to a ridiculously delicious level.

The mielony ($5 each), of Polish heritage, is a navel orange-sized orb that's bronzed in the deep-fryer. Inside, there's a glorious mixture of ground chicken, sauerkraut, garlic and molten cheddar
cheese.

At $5 each, it's a meal in itself, but can be supplemented with mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing and the like. The sides, as of yet, have not been formed into batter-fried balls of goodness.

The food kiosk is located in the North Market, 59 Spruce St.