Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Black Sea Restaurant

Visited on April 5 with Josh, Mindy and Abby

Black Sea Restaurant

Erin's Review
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.

Inside Black Sea

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 :)

Combo Gyro

Ben's Review
Our 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.

Inside Black Sea

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 :)

Gyro plate

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).

Annie eating pita

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
St. Paul


Liz said...

Thanks for posting about this place- we live nearby too but haven't been there in awhile.

It used to be that there was one cook and one server- a married couple with a lovely story behind their meeting and opening the restaurant.

One time we tried to go and there was a sign on the door: "Closed for today: Wife sick." I guess the cook needed his server. :)

Nate said...

I am craving Gyro SO bad right now. Take out sounds like a great idea.

beth said...

We live in the hood too and love Black Sea. I really like their red lentil soup and most of the appetizers and the vegetarian platter. Husband loves one of the chicken dishes, but I can't remember which. And our toddler loves the pita, hummus, tzatziki, and the french fries. I personally love the hole-in-the-wall feel!

Elizabeth said...

I went to Hamline and they opened up while I was in college. Their falafel and fries were great hangover food. ;)

Jen said...

I've been to Black Sea, although it's been cousin Colleen teaches is a prof at Hamline, and lives in St. Anthony, and she took me and my parents once when we were visiting (so, before I even moved to the Cities, which was more than a decade ago!). She is friends with the owners...a couple who moved to the Cities from Turkey. I can't remember the backstory now, but at the time they were relatively new to America, and Minnesota, and were happy that Colleen had befriended them and was a regular at their restaurant. I remember having a great experience, because it was the firs time I'd ever had Turkish food, I didn't have a kid so the concept of kid-friendly wasn't even on my radar-screen, and because they gave us a whole bunch of free dessert! Probably not the greatest Turkish option in the Cities (and I'm not a huge fan of Turkish/Greek food anyway), but awww, they were soooo nice! I'm so glad it's still in business, and I'm glad you patronized it!


Jolene said...

I also live in the area and my husband and I love the Black Sea. After our first experience of eating in the cramped restaurant we always get it to go, which especially with a baby is much easier. We always get the Gyro sandwiches and order extra sauce. They are only $5 and come with either fries or rice. So cheap and good!