Grilled food is a fixture in Turkish cuisine, which is at the heart of Flatbread Grill’s menu.
“We rarely steam or fry our food,” says Fusun Esendemir, who cofounded Flatbread Grill in 2007 with sisters Arzu and Gonca. “We grill it.” The grill in their restaurant is central, featured in an open kitchen, and likely the first thing that guests notice when getting ready to order. “We don’t have to market our food as real because they can see it for themselves,” Esendemir says.
The Esendemirs grill because they grew up on grilled food, but also because it’s healthy and packed full of flavor. “Grilling locks in the flavor, and you can use half the amount of seasoning,” she says. “We grill because the flavor is better.” It’s also a core brand differentiator. The Mediterranean chicken, for example, is a star on the menu and stands out with its grilled flavor.
Flatbread Grill also uses the grill to blend flavors, evening out a number of heartier spices and aromatics. Combining rosemary, dill, lemon, and oil creates a “cohesive flavor composition” that would be unbalanced in a steamed application, Esendemir says. By adding 15 types of seasoning to the ground beef, the brand offers Mediterranean cuisine that goes beyond the ol’ salt-and-pepper burgers of yester-America. “Guests appreciate that flavor burst,” Esendemir says. “You are no longer just tasting the meat; you are tasting the interesting flavors.”