Talk about a colorful backstory! For the past eight years, Cetin Gungor was the food and beverage director, and executive chef aboard a yacht that motored among the Aegean Cyclades and harbored in a port south of Canakkale on the Asian side of Turkey. Today, he’s plying his talents in the kitchen at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro, and happy for the change of venue.
Canakkale, you’ll recall, is at the base of the Dardanelles where the straits enter the Aegean Sea. Canakkale sprawls near the ancient city of Troy, it being of trojan horse fame. The yacht Gungor served aboard made regular visits to the storied isles of Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and several other of the Cyclades rash of islands in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey.
So, why leave such a cushy gig to come here? Mehmet Coskum, owner of Artemis, answered that question for the chef: “He is a very talented guy, and because of all the strife in Turkey, he just wanted to get out of there,” Coskum said, adding that the autocratic nature of the Turkish regime has made the country increasingly more dangerous and challenging for its citizens.
Gungor arrived here about a month ago now, and he is adding a new dimension for diners to enjoy at Artemis. There will be no change to the standard menu, so not to worry there. Jewish diners-out will find all their favorites, the stuffed eggplant, the cabbage rolls and so on, just as before Gungor’s arrival. The added attractions will be daily specials of seafood, pasta, beef and more, along with to-die-for desserts.
Again, Coskum spoke of the talents of his new chef: “He’s really good at special entrees. When he was on the yacht, the owner would tell him what he wanted the meals to be on each voyage, lots of variety, and it was up to him to buy the needed ingredients and prepare whatever was desired.” In effect, that is a specials-all-the-time menu, and a chef must be adroit, flexible and knowledgeable to satisfy the demands of that approach.
We were treated to one of the specials that you may find on your next visit to Artemis, the charbroiled steak tenderloin with porcini mushrooms and potato disks. This special featured the beef cut in strips charred on the outside and rare, tender, and juicy when cut into. The char and seasonings create a tantalizingly tasty flavor profile for the steak. The mix of potato and porcini is a delightful complement to this special entrée.
While Gungor was academically trained in Turkey at Chef Istanbul culinary school, his major course of study there was in Italian-style cuisine, with added instruction in Turkish cooking. Jewish diners likely will notice Italian dishes and pastas on the specials board on given nights. Chef Gungor said: “I learned Italian cooking, seafood, bakery (breads and desserts), and (how to prepare beef) steak.”
Another of the special items brought to our table was an appetizer created for us. This item featured marinated artichoke bottoms, three in all, each topped with a different filling, and crowned with small wedges of avocado. The three fillings included a spicy chopped vegetable medley on one, house-made hummus on the second, and creamy yogurt haydari on the third. Never having come across haydari before, I asked about it. The creamy topping features yogurt mixed with garlic, dill, walnuts, butter, and dry mint. Delicious! If the appetizer looks and sounds good, you can bet the chef will prepare it for you, given all ingredients are in house.
Kosher-style diners-out will want to ask the server for the ingredient list for all specials, since butter and cream may be part of Italian recipes that feature meats. Also, since Artemis features a scratch kitchen, Coskum stated that he will accommodate Jewish diners-out in any way he can. He added: “Business has been getting better and has really been good on the weekends lately, and I want to thank everybody for coming here. Now with the specials we will have all the time, those will add to the regular menu for more choices. The regular menu, the food will be the same, because a lot of customers come here for the choices on our menu. But now there will be the specials too,” he said, adding more choices for those who want to try something different.
See you at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro!
Artemis Mediterranean Bistro
7791 Cooper Road
Cincinnati OH 45242