Visited on April 5 with Josh, Mindy and Abby
Black Sea is one of a few restaurants near Snelling and Minnehaha in St. Paul - none of which look very appealing from the outside. I had heard about it a bit from my stylists at Moxie Salon, which is across the street, and always meant to try it out, but never got around to it. Josh's coworkers recommended the place to him, so he decided to go there for his birthday. Due to the proximity to our house, we were invited along.
I actually had a haircut at Moxie the night before, so I asked for recommendations. I was told that the gyros are great, and that the cheeseburger is surprisingly good as well. The website leaves JUST a little bit to be desired, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. When we got there, we found a tiny place with maybe 10 tables total, and a take-out counter. It was super cramped, but somehow we managed to squeeze 4 adults and 2 babies in there.
There was only one server there, but he was very friendly. I ordered a lemonade, which was actually some kind of specific Turkish lemonade and was a bit too sweet for my liking. We got the falafel and hummus for everyone, but mostly for Annie, and I ordered the Doner Combination plate, which is chicken, beef and lamb gyros with rice and pita.
One thing I was a bit confused about was the distinction between Turkish and Greek food here - I didn't really notice a huge difference from the menu, but that could have been the dishes we ordered. Maybe there isn't a difference at all. They are really close to Hamline University, so need to cater to a student crowd and may be why they also offer fries and burgers. I'm curious to know if anyone has been to Black Sea before, and what you thought of the experience?
The food came out quickly, and tasted pretty good, although the gyro meat was pretty dry. It wasn't even close to the best Greek (Turkish?) food I've had in the Twin Cities, but it was a quick, filling and friendly meal at a place that is within walking distance to our house. If I'm in the mood for Greek food, usually I'd want to eat at Christos just to reminisce about our wedding there. The falafel and hummus were delicious - Annie and I both loved them. The ambiance leaves much to be desired, and the food wasn't THAT good, so I wouldn't recommend it. Despite it's proximity to our house, I'm not sure we'll be back more than a handful of times. If someone comments and tells me that there are better dishes to try, however, I could be persuaded. (After reviewing the photos, I notice the key "delivery" notation on their sign - maybe we WILL be eating more of this after all! 4 blocks is just too far sometimes :)
Ben's ReviewOur friends Josh and Mindy were going out for Josh’s birthday and being that Black Sea is about four blocks from our house, we decided to join them.
We’ve known about Black Sea for awhile but never seem to make it over there, and I’m really glad that we did! Black Sea is a Turkish restaurant (supposedly the first in the state) crammed into a small space right on Snelling just north of Minnehaha. We walked in and for a moment thought that we’d have to leave - it just didn’t look like there would be enough room for four adults and two little kids. Then I noticed some more space where Josh was waiting for us towards the back. It was still cramped and luckily nobody sat at the table next to us while we were there.
The menu is mostly Mediterranean items, with some burgers and fries thrown in there. I saw that they had gyros and knew what I was getting, it was just a matter of which platter to get. I went with the “Doner-(Gyro)-rotisserie beef and lamb” (#23 from the menu), with fries and an iced tea. There isn’t any beer or wine at Black Sea so it forces you to save a little money that way :)
The portions are enormous. I got my plate and was delighted by the pile of gyros atop my french fries. They also give you an entire bottle of Tzatziki sauce for the table, which was great. The platter also came with a couple pita pockets to make sure you get extra full.
My gyros was delicious and I managed to eat it all. Josh got chicken gyros with some sort of Buffalo sauce, which was also excellent. Annie enjoyed her hummus, pita, and falafel VERY much. While it was a tight fit with two children, the staff were actually very accommodating about having kids around (though there is only one highchair). Later on Erin and I were talking about what makes a restaurant “kid friendly” and decided that it’s a mix of having food that is appropriate for kids and having an environment that welcomes them. While Black Sea doesn’t have a kids menu and lacks several high chairs, I do give them credit for taking the little kids in stride in their small space (and dealing with the mess they made).
I’m glad we finally made it to Black Sea and I look forward to eating there again and getting take out for home. Next time I think Erin and I could split a platter which makes it that much more affordable.
Service: Excellent service, everything came out quickly and they were very friendly.
Food: Delicious gyros and fries.
Drinks: No alcohol but they have an assortment of Turkish coffees and teas to try.
Ambiance: “Cozy”, as owners of small houses would say.
Convenience: Extremely convenient for us because we can walk :)
737 N Snelling Ave