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Review: Cafe Agora (1)

A Turkish delight livens up Buckhead

“How did you hear about us?” Al Ozelci demands the first time I visit Café Agora. It’s a rainy Sunday evening, and I’m unsure about how this particular restaurant works. When I walk in, no one greets me, tells me where to sit, or offers a menu. Ozelci is rushing around behind the counter — a one-man front-of-house, with one cook in back. When I approach him to find out what to do, Ozelci peppers me with questions.

“What kind of food you like? This kind of food?” He gestures to a case filled with a rainbow of salads, dips and other Middle Eastern cold specialties.

“I like all food,” I say.

“Fine. Take a seat. I’ll bring you something.”

A minute later, he arrives at the table, a plate in hand laden with stuff from the case. He places the plate on the table, and after taking a quick minute to do a magic trick for my son (an impressive disappearing-mint act), he begins to pick up small squares of pita and load them with tastes from the plate. An outrageously thick tzatziki, the yogurt shot through with dill, is smooshed with a roasted eggplant. And then Ozelci feeds me the square of pita. “You’ll like this,” he says, watching my reaction.

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(Photo by James Camp)