I’ve long complained that among its many culinary short-comings, the Napa Valley doesn’t offer a decent gyro, though that’s not to say I haven’t encountered a couple really sub-par versions along the way. But in terms of something that I would actually order again, Napa’s best “gyro” so far has been the Kitchen Door’s tasty lahmajune, which is definitely gyro-like in flavor and spirit, though still not a gyro by definition. At any rate, with the opening of Tarla Mediterranean Grill at the end of last year, I found renewed optimism for a good local gyro, something that might finally spare me the 40-mile trip to Berkeley for such a fix. Located at the ground floor of the Avia Hotel, Tarla bills its cuisine as “Greek and Turkish fusion,” and their Beef Doner Gyro seems to be a popular item thus far. In fact, I really wish that I could say more about it, but on my inaugural visit to Tarla, the restaurant had already sold out of their gyros by dinner (apparently, I’m not the only one in Napa with such cravings). My fall-back plan was the Lamb Kofte Burger, pictured above.
I must admit, despite having my mind set on the gyro, the Lamb Kofte Burger was thoughtfully executed and delicious. Aside from the house-baked bun, which is always a step in the proper direction, the burger features lots of interesting accoutrements, including a fava bean spread, pickled turnips, grilled radicchio, and (my favorite) paper-thin slices of grilled lemon. With the Mediterranean palate in mind, the appropriate cheese option for the Kofte Burger would obviously be feta, although I requested white cheddar instead (in my book, feta ranks as a last-resort cheese, something that might garnish a salad, at most). In a similar spirit, I also requested a side of Tarla’s spicy mayo, which was not only good for the burger, but good for the Greek-style fries, as well.