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Troy Mediterranean Grill; Burger Joint
DISH Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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I recently had dinner at the most charming place.

It's almost easy to overlook Troy Mediterranean Grill (2908 N. Broadway; ), as it's situated in a stretch of Lincoln Park/Lakeview that has some construction (including that overhaul at the Clark/Broadway/Diversey intersection) and more high-profile eateries such as Frog N Snail. However, it'd be a mistake to look past this restaurant.

Owner John Ozcan (a former hairstylist) told Savor that the hallmark of Troy, which has been open since May, is healthy food. He added, "Everything is fresh; everything on the menu is made here—baklava, bread, whatever's on the menu."

This certainly made me feel better has my dining companion and I chowed down on various items in this relatively small, but lovely, dining establishment.

Ozcan brought out several cold appetizers to try with the tasty bread. Among them were haydari (thickened yogurt with crushed garlic, dill and walnuts), soslu patlican (fried eggplant in fresh tomato and garlic sauce), baba gannouj and hummus. We favored the haydari the most and my friend (who's not the biggest eggplant fan) even liked the soslu patlican.

Something that's not to be missed is the Troy pizza (also known as lahmacun), a thin-crust pizza topped with ground lamb. Ozcan suggested that we top the dish with the accompanying vegetables and juice from the lemon wedges in order to get the most out of the pizza. The combination of tastes worked on both of us like a charm.

Then—as if we weren't full enough—my friend and I tried a couple items from the grill: lamb sis and Troy filet mignon sis kebabs. The meat was absolutely amazing, I have to say. These dishes alone are enough to warrant a return. For dessert, we tried the baklava, which was also outstanding; it was light, warm and very tasty.

Like most Mediterranean eateries, Troy has plenty of vegetarian options, such as sebvzeli pide, a Turkish pie stuffed with mixed vegetables, and vegetarian saute.

Also, as my friend pointed out, lighting can make quite a difference. As the staff turned down the main lights and lit candles, the place definitely took on a more intimate feel.

So Troy is highly recommended. You get attentive service and really good food (at a great price). By the way, Troy is BYOB.

The following night, switching locales and cuisines, another friend and I stopped by Burger Joint Chicago (675 N. Franklin St; ), a basement-level eatery in the River North area.

The first thing one notices is the decor, with plenty of exposed brick. There's also a subway motif (quite possibly because of the Brown Line trains that constantly rumble overhead) and large-screen TVs tuned into ESPN—which suits me just fine, but may not work for some readers.

As for the food, well, it's more than satisfying, overall. My friend got a gyro burger that he said was great. He also opted for the Merkt's cheddar fries—and, thankfully, the cheese was on the side in a cup. He loved the fries (which come in a huge bag), but the cheddar—which is notoriously sharp—was a tad too much for him.

I went with a standard cheeseburger that turned out to be especially tasty (which my trainer is going to love reading). I also went for something I'd never tried before: poutine. However, now I know why Canadians love this dish—it's French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese (although other places have variations), and it's just as sinful as it sounds.

However, Burger Joint (which also apparently has a very hunky cook I missed on my visit there) has other attractive-sounding items, including spicy feta fries, blue cheese fries, the crazy Greek burger, chili dogs, desserts (double chocolate fudge cookie—gluten-free) and milkshakes. Another great feature is the prices, of course; various meals cost $5.99-$9.99.

One of the staffers told us that she's not even allowed to work late on Friday and Saturday nights (the place stays open to whenever on those nights—usually 4 or 5 a.m.) because of the revelers who stop by from the nearby clubs. Of course, I'll have to see what that scene is like.

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