Sofra's roasted Turkish-style lamb chops, duck breast and tenderloin are simply fabulous. Graham Hicks/Edmonton SunEdmonton

Sofra Authentic Turkish Cuisine
10345 106 St. NW

No listed delivery service

Tues. to Sun. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Closed Monday

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $90


Turkish food in Edmonton does not get the respect it deserves.

Here’s a culture, an ancient civilization that cradled the Greeks and the Romans. It’s among the world’s most moderate Muslim nations … with a food pallet as attuned to western meat ‘n’ potatoes as anything in Greece and Central Europe.

Another interesting anomaly: Turkey’s geographical location and terrain would suggest the country ought to be a major producer of wine.

Turkey is all about grapes, not wine. Grapes as a fruit, dried grapes as raisins, distilled grapes for spirits. But not much for wine.  The drinking and serving of alcoholic beverages in Turkey is very European, but wine consumption comes a distant fourth, after beer, raki (the national drink made with distilled grapes and aniseed) and vodka.

The wines it does produce have become first-rate.

Last week one of Turkey’s biggest wine producers, Lucien Arkas Vineyards, introduced its relatively unknown wines to Alberta.

Naturally, the venue for the kickoff was a Turkish restaurant.

Sofra, on 106 Street just south of McEwan University, has quietly built a loyal following for its sophisticated Turkish cuisine over the past 15 years. It could arguably be the least-known restaurant in Edmonton with the best-known clientele – a favourite, for instance, of the Oilers’  top brass.

A few years ago, owner/chef Yuksel Gultekin expanded into the building’s basement, creating a distinctly European wine cellar atmosphere where the wines of Turkey dinner was held last week.

With terrific Turkish cooking from Gultekin, the evening produced some of the most interesting, thoroughly new and delicious food/wine pairings I have encountered.

Turkish wines have been introduced into the Alberta market, and they are first-rate. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun Edmonton

For appetizers, out from the kitchen came plump grilled tiger prawns with an in-house tomato basil sauce, plus goat cheese and figs within rolled-up slices of Turkish-style pastrami – known as pastirmi sarma.

Sofra’s “pastirmi sarma” – seasoned goat cheese and figs mixture rolled inside Turkish-style pastrami – blended beautifully with the Turkish chardonnay. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun

The pastirmi sarma was delicious unto itself, and superbly enhanced with the ultra-smooth Turkish chardonnay blend – Idol Ugni Blanc Chardonnay. Its citrus notes mingled with the sweet fig, meaty pastirmi and savoury goat cheese to produce a lovely new taste. The tomato/shrimp was a surprisingly smooth fit with Arkas Vineyard’s Antre Sauvignon Blanc.

Sofra’s fine word-of-mouth reputation comes courtesy of its roasted meats. At our dinner, three of Gultekin’s finest dishes – a traditional Turkish grilled rack of lamb, a simply gorgeous smoked duck breast, and cubed beef tenderloin – played off the heavy, rich tannins of the Antre Okuzgozu-Bogazkere, a rarely exported red wine native to Turkey.

Once again, the flavours – the robust peppery wine with the beautiful duck breast and lamb chops richly coated in Turkish spices – were something new and utterly beguiling. On the side, a cumin-packed rice pilaf contributed to the cornucopia of flavours deserving so much more pan-Canadian exposure.

Cumin-flavoured rice pilaf with greens. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun Edmonton

Altogether an enlightening enjoyable expedition into a world of new wines and new foods and the interaction thereof: Lucien Arkas Turkish wines list in the $20 range and are available at the Chateau Louis Liquor Store, Liquor International and the Jasper Wine Mrkt, among others.


With the success of the Downtown and Chinatown dining weeks, more of the city’s business districts are realizing that group “parties” attract attention.

The Stony Plain Road Business Association presents “A Taste of Stony Plain Road” sampling party on Thursday, May 23, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the outdoor patio of the Orange Hub, 10045-156 Street (the former MacEwan University arts building). Wine and food samples from the likes of Island Grill, El Rincon Hispano and Little Village. More info at