Aya Sofia, St. Louis' only Turkish restaurant, opened in October 2005 by Turkish Chef Mehmet Yildiz and designer Alicia Aboussie. Our outstanding ... More
Aya Sofia, St. Louis' only Turkish restaurant, opened in October 2005 by Turkish Chef Mehmet Yildiz and designer Alicia Aboussie. Our outstanding Turkish cuisine is delicious, fresh, and healthy. We serve lamb, beef, chicken and seafood. Aya Sofia offers a large variety of cold and hot meze (small plates) that are intended to be shared and will complement any of our entrees. Afiyet Olsun (Enjoy your meal)! Aya Sofia has a romantic luxurious atmosphere combined with excellent upscale service and warm Turkish hospitality.
We ate at Aya Sofia last night because we wanted to support the International Institute. WOW! The food was fabulous and our waiter, Jeff was terrific. We really enjoyed ourselves and cannot wait to return. Thank you for a lovely evening.
We love Aya Sofia. Went there for a birthday celebration dinner and had a great time. We left absolutely stuffed. The food was excellent as always and it was such a nice night we were able to sit outside. The servers are attentive and helpful with making suggestions from the menu and drink lists. Will of course go back again.
We had been to this restaurant once previous to this visit and had really enjoyed the quite and romantic atmosphere and vegetarian food. We suggested it as the location of a family gathering, but I believe our out-of-town guests left with regret. Unfortunately, the dining hall was anything but enjoyable, as the music and conversation in the dining hall prevented anyone from being heard. The loud and obnoxious atmosphere, combined with the mistakes that followed have drastically affected our perception of this restaurant. The bartender refused to transfer our bar tab to the table, causing confusion and frustration with our party. Then, the waitress brought the beef moussaka rather than the vegetarian, refusing to apologize or rectify the mistake with the correct entree. Rather than argue with the customer about what was ordered, this mistake could have been prevented by simply ASKING which moussaka dish was preferred upon ordering (or just offering an apology). A place we truly enjoyed in our neighborhood has become a place we will certainly avoid.
Bad Experience at ‘Aya Sofia’
I, my wife, my brother and his wife visited a Turkish restaurant, Aya Sofia, after 5 years, on November 23rd, 2008, I belive. We all have lived in Turkey until 2003, before we came to the U.S. as graduate students. At first everything looked normal, except for the fact that there was no one to guide us into our table for about 5 minutes. We immediately started to order a lot of Turkish food which we have been missing so much: Calamari, Iskender, Lamb, Chicken Soup, etc. Immediately after we took our first bites however, everyone was looking at each other with the same expression on the face: Wait.. This is not Turkish food. And even worse, this is not good food!
They had identical grocery-store-sauce for both Calamari and Iskender for instance. Meat of Iskender was definitely not fresh and apparently was made of canned meat. But let alone not resembling Turkish food remotely, which Aya Sofia clams to be about, they were of very poor quality. They simply tasted bad. When, for example, my brother ordered Lamb he asked the waitress for “well done”, but the one he got was literally dripping blood after the first cut. Airan, a Turkish drink, too tasted un-Turkish and simply bad.
The only exception was Chicken Soup, which was OK/edible. And the tip we paid to the waitress was probably less than she deserved, $8; she seemed to be a nice person and served us well. Aya Sofia is expensive, and for a modest dinner we paid about 82 dollars (plus 8 dollars of tip). To be honest, we were too shy to complain on the spot; we felt we were in our bother’s residence after 5 years, and it would have been inconvenient to do so. But still, while leaving I told the waitress that we are from Turkey, and that what we had was not Turkish food. She replied apologetically that ‘yes, today our Turkish chief is not the one who is cooking’. When I e-mailed the chief and the owner of the restaurant a day after, Mehmet Yildiz, complaining about the situation, he replied with a rather rude e-mail (for instance, one of his sentences was that ‘if I was looking for a meal made by mom I was in the wrong place), and refused to accept any responsibility.
I feel they cheated us in this restaurant that misleads people and does not live up to minimal expectations of a second-rate dining place, while charging the price of the first-rate one. I am extremely angry that they play with innocent people’s lack of information about true Turkish food, and even fail to serve food that simply tastes OK. Except for the price of Chicken Soup and the tip for the waitress we totally deserved reimbursement. Of course, the owner of Aya Sofia did not even bother to reply.
This is one of my favorite restaurants in St. Louis! I have tried a number of different menu items and everything has been amazing--perfectly cooked and wonderfully seasoned. The complimentary olive tapenade with warm pita is the best I have ever had. The Aya Sofia salad is awesome. The poached AND broiled red snapper that is sometimes a special is probably the most delicious fish I have ever tasted. For lunch, the doner sandwich is a great deal. The reasonably priced wine list complements the food very well and the service is always excellent. Everyone I have ever introduced to the place loves it as well.
I took a friend (who is a sommelier) to Aya Sofia and we were extremely pleased. The lamb chops were PERFECT, all of our appetizers were yummy, and the wine list was impressive without being daunting. Price wise, very moderate and a GREAT value for the experience. Loved the decor- definitely felt the Middle Eastern vibe without being campy. Can't wait to go back.
And reasonably priced too! I have been to only a handful of mediterranean restaurants and have been dissapointed until I went to Aya Sophia's at my wife's request. The average Joe that I am recommends it highly. Its a great date place.
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