Anyone who has ever tried to grill lamb chops will know chops can be a tricky business — difficult to reach “just-right” on a grill alone. The grill marks: yes, easy. But will they be warm and rare on the inside? Not likely. In fact, my experience is that to reach warm inside, one must sacrifice rare in the grilling process. Plus, one leaves the chops on just a bit too long, and your diners may be eating shoe leather, metaphorically speaking. That is where the Turkish tradition of cooking lamb enters the picture, says Mehmet Coskum of Artemis Mediterranean Bistro, who specializes in chops done to perfection.
“The lamb (chops) we do a special way, and not everybody can do it the way we do it; it’s a unique dish, done (to start) on the grill (the Turkish way),” he said.
The “special” part starts with the seasonings used in Artemis’ lamb chop entrée—a little salt, a little oregano, proportionally perfect. That perfection is the ancestor of experience, achieved through centuries of trial and error. “The oregano is a very good herb for lamb, and it is an herb that Turkish people have been using for a long time,” Coskum said.
So, careful seasoning; then what? “Our lamb chops, we grill them (four lamb chops per entrée) first, char them on the outside. Then we put them in the oven to finish them,” he said. The oven finish is a step that heats the chops through without changing the inside color of the meat if the timing is right. Me, I want my chops rare, and that quality is reached by a quick char on the grill, marking the chops, and then a few minutes in the oven. Done!
We tried the lamb chops, and they are excellent. Mine were rare and delicious. Coskum’s seasoning secrets make for tasty chops, and his skill with the grill-oven cooking process adds to the experience. The meal includes flavored rice and a chopped salad as sides.
Following the meal, we tried a dessert recommended by Serpil Gunduz-Coskum, wife of Mehmet, and partner in the enterprise. “The chocolate-almond pudding is now on the menu; it’s new, and I think you will like it,” she said. She was correct; delicious! The pudding is creamy and deeply chocolate, and the mix of almond slices adds to the texture of this simple but tasty dessert.
Returning to the lamb chops, Mehmet said: “We have people who come here, regulars come here just for the lamb chops. Four or five (patrons) who call ahead to make sure we have them. That’s all (the lamb chop entrée) they order, every time. It has become a very popular dish,” he said.
Also popular is a website feature called Food-A-Lot. When you visit artemisbistro.com you will find an “order online” option on the tool bar. This option allows the diner to scan the menu, make choices, order directly from the computer, pay with a credit card, and to establish a pick-up time that fits the patron’s schedule. “For instance, if you want to order carryout today, and you decide this at noon, you bring up the online order option, and you decide what you want, when you want to pick up your order, at 6 or 6:30 (pm), or whenever, and you pay with a credit card, and that order comes up in our kitchen. Everything will be ready at the time you specify and all you have to do is pick it up,” he said.
“The system works really well, and we are getting more customers using it now and over the last few months. The thing is, you don’t have to deal with the phone or any of that, and your order goes straight to the kitchen, and everything is timed out for you.”
Of course, dining in at Artemis still is an option, and patrons will find a socially distanced setting inside, and a comfortable setting for al fresco dining outside, even in these colder months. “We have the heaters outside, and we put up a screen to block the wind (and weather) from blowing through (the breezeway), so it is very nice out there. We have one family, they come every Saturday evening around five and they stay to 8 o’clock or so, and they eat outside. We are very thankful for those customers, the regulars who have helped us during these tough times,” Coskum said.
In addition to the dining options spelled out above, Coskum also mentioned that his staff has embarked on catering, called EZ Catering, as a way of helping him overcome the constrictions the virus has wrought. “We just started the catering. For instance, a couple days ago, we catered a doctor’s office (party) in Milford. They ordered hummus, falafel, a pan of rice, chicken kabobs and a Greek salad. Everything is made family-style and each item is for 10 people (minimum) or more, depending on what you need. I did the delivery and the follow-up to make sure everything was good. They were very happy with the service and the food,” he stated.
See you at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro!
Artemis Mediterranean Bistro
7791 Cooper Road
Cincinnati, OH 45242