Being Turkish, I feel especially qualified to comment on the experience at Simit & Chai. The café is a cozy corner tucked away on King Street. You walk in, and order at the counter, then take a seat at one of the artfully laid out tables and benches. Don’t expect grandeur, this place is small, and it likes it that way.
Simit is a circular piece of bread, with some crunch to it, often adorned with sesame seeds. Americans like to refer to it as the “Turkish bagel,” which is not all that inaccurate. That being said, simit is far more flavorful and far less doughy in constitution. Often enjoyed simply warmed up on its own, with some tea.
If you’ve ever been to Turkey, or Greece, or anywhere in the Mediterranean region, you’ll know that tea flows like water. You go shopping, the stores serve tea, you visit friends, they serve tea, you linger in one spot for long enough, the magic tea fairy appears and offers tea. Long story short, tea is part of the lifestyle. The tea is different though – tea in the Mediterranean and the Middle East is rarely served in bags, but rather is served as steeped tea, for which the strength can be controlled according to a person’s tastes.
For this reason, Simit & Chai (“cay” is tea in Turkish) was a very appropriate name, paying homage to a classic combination.
They offer great combinations of simit, from your classic buttered, to a richer classic of feta cheese and tomato. You can also order Turkish pastries, and varieties of Turkish coffee I’ve never even seen in Turkey (iced Turkish coffee anyone??).
Overall, Simit & Chai delivers as authentic of a classic, simple, Turkish experience as is possible on this side of the ocean, and does it well, for very reasonable prices. 10/10 would recommend!