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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Reason Grill House Mediterranean's Uneven? A Departed Chef

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 12:00 PM

LARA HATA
  • Lara Hata

The restaurant review published in print this week, of Grill House Mediterranean in the Tenderloin, noted that there were clear differences in the quality of the food when the restaurant's Turkish chef, Vahit  Besir, was in the restaurant.

That was truer than even I knew.

Mr. Besir emailed me today to say that he actually left the restaurant four weeks ago, in the middle of my four visits. "I had the quit my job because the owner (Ali) did not obey the agreement" he wrote. When I contacted the restaurant shortly before publication to verify information, I was told that Mr. Besir was the chef, but he was out for a few days with back problems. I have a phone call out to the restaurant to find out who the new chef, if there is one, might be.

Infuriating but not unheard of, especially when you cover tiny restaurants. Eight years ago, I called a restaurant just before turning in a review, and the chef told me he was walking out at the end of service that night, taking his whole staff. Another time I interviewed a restaurant owner about her new Cantonese restaurant and published a glowing review a week later, only to learn the day the review came out that it had just shut down. When I called the restaurateur back to ask her why she didn't tell me she was closing, all she could do was cry.

Possible takeaway? Even when the quality of the Turkish food at Grill House Mediterranean had taken a dive, the kebabs were still decent.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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