The recipe for a beloved eggplant dish at Meyhouse is simple. To make köpoğlu ($17), executive chef and owner Omer Artun brines eggplants before roasting them. “They don’t become spongy that way, and then I toss them in olive oil,” he explained.
He also roasts green and red bell peppers until they caramelize. But the key ingredient is the yogurt spread on the bottom of the plate.
“I brought the yogurt culture myself ten years ago from Turkey,” Artun said. “We make the yogurt ourselves and it’s not as sweet as American yogurt.” He described it as “sharp and tangy.”
Köpoğlu is a layered dish. On top of the yogurt and roasted eggplants and peppers, the chef adds a tomato sauce made with garlic, sugar and vinegar. “It has that garlicky flavor but it’s balanced by a little bit of sugar and acidity. People just love it like that,” he said.
Meyhouse serves homemade flatbread with the eggplant starter. “It’s a recipe I developed many years ago,” he said. “It’s a thin bread but not a lavash.” Every day Meyhouse bakes nearly 200 pounds of bread to keep up with the demand.
Artun is a home cook who started Meyhouse as a pop-up in 2017. After developing a following, the chef and his business partner opened a restaurant in Sunnyvale two years later. “We were full every night and that encouraged us to do a bigger project,” Artun said. While the pandemic delayed an expansion in Palo Alto, Meyhouse signed a lease there at the former location of Gordon Biersch.
Since opening the new restaurant last fall, Artun said Meyhouse is dedicated to serving authentic Turkish food. “It’s not Americanized or fusion. It’s true to its origin.” The flavors are meant to be clean and bright. “We don’t purée a lot of things or use cream,” he said. “It’s all olive oil and garlic on a charcoal grill so the ingredients shine through as much as possible.”
Artun’s family hails from Antakya, a suburb of Aleppo, which used to be part of the Ottoman Empire. “It was one of the food capitals of the world in ancient times because it was the end of the Silk Road—the first port to transport goods to Italy and France,” he explained. Artun described the region as a melting pot for European and Middle Eastern cultures. “That cultural exchange made a huge impact on the food and I come from that culture,” he said.
The menu at Meyhouse includes many of the dishes Artun grew up eating with his family. “I try to do the best version of dishes that everybody knows,” he said. “We have a kebab, which is only made from hand-butchered lamb that’s knife-chopped—it’s not ground meat.” The chef grills the lamb with red peppers. “It’s made exactly how it’s done in Adana, a city that’s famous for this type of kebab.”
In Turkey, a meyhane is the equivalent of a pub or wine bar, a place to go out with friends for a drink and listen to live music. Artun said that he’s trying to recreate that experience at Meyhouse, which also hosts singers and jazz nights. “If it’s a big group [of diners], we basically seat them the whole night,” he said. “People like coming here to enjoy the music and evenings out with friends.”
Open Mon to Sun 11:45am–2pm, Mon to Thurs & Sun 5-9:30pm, Fri to Sat 5-10pm,
640 Emerson St., Palo Alto