Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

This adventure in dining begins like many others I’ve experienced over the years: in a nondescript strip mall.

Some of the best food can be found in strip malls of course, in establishments with harshly lit rooms and plastic chairs. So regardless of atmosphere, the anticipation of awesome Turkish food made me giddy. Turns out, I had totally prejudged the book by its cover.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

The soft lighting and tasteful decor at Anatolia Turkish Restaurant was downright elegant. Linen tablecloths were framed at the tables by beautifully upholstered chairs. Lovely Turkish art and woven rugs adorned the walls. Cozy was the adjective my brain finally settled upon.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant
Anatolia Turkish Restaurant
Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Seductive aromas of sautéing garlic, onion, and spices greeted us. I tried to guess… was that oregano? Maybe cinnamon? Whatever magic they were conjuring back there had us all salivating.
Anatolia’s owner, Huseyin Ustunkaya has a warm and easy smile. The restaurant is packed, and he seems to know the majority of his customers by name. Since things were so busy, I told him we’d talk after the rush died a little. “It’s fine!” He says, “They don’t really need me out there!” I believe him, but I told him I wouldn’t feel right for taking up his time. Besides, we were all starving.

The Cuisine

Fresh bread with herbed oil was brought, giving us time to look over the menu. I asked our server, Deniz, to pick some of his favorites for us to try.
His choices did not disappoint. We started with the Anatolia sampler platter: Stuffed grape leaves, rolled phyllo filled with salty cheese (these went over HUGE with my kids), and house made hummus with pita. Accompanying this beautiful spread was rose petal jam which I had never had before. Now I kinda want to bathe in it.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

At the request of my kiddos we had calamari as well, which was perfect. Crispy, without the consistency of breaded rubber bands. They disappeared fast.

Next came the entrees…

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

He also recommended a Turkish wine I had never tried. It was a great table wine, dry and light on the tannins.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

The lamb stew was amazing. Cubed lamb, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, garlic and onions all baked harmoniously in a stone oven. The gravy forged by this process was delicate, and it balanced the rich flavor of the lamb beautifully.

Up next was Turkish gyros, seasoned and marinated beef cooked on a rotating skewer and thinly sliced (as all proper gyros should be in my humble opinion). It was also served with rice pilaf, yogurt sauce and grilled vegetables.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Because my children are carnivores and love all things lamb, they also had the lamb shish kabob: lamb cubes marinated in Turkish spices chargrilled on skewers served with rice pilaf, yogurt sauce and grilled vegetables. Believe me when I tell you this dish was amazing!

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Finally, also at the recommendation of Deniz, I had the vegetarian sampler. It was a magnificent dish of eggplant stuffed with onions, pine nuts, tomatoes and parsley; artichoke stuffed with pine nuts, rice, and currants; and grilled vegetables. It was served with rice and that ubiquitous  yogurt sauce. I generally like vegetarian dishes, this one is now my favorite.

After stuffing ourselves like Christmas turkeys (no pun intended), I had the pleasure of sitting down for a while to speak with the man running this finely tuned show.

How it all started…

The Ustunkaya brothers, Huseyin and Harun, worked in a resort located in Antalya, an idyllic beachside town on Anatolia’s southwest Mediterranean coast.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Owned by Marriot, the resort was an excellent place for the brothers to gain experience, and as Huseyin told me, learn English. He said learning English would be one of the most difficult, and most vital pieces of the process of immigrating to the US.

“My passion wasn’t with resorts, I knew that. I knew what I wanted above all else was to open my own restaurant, serving the food I grew up with and love so much.” He says.

The Ustunkaya brothers come from a family surrounded by food. His father ran restaurants when he was young so the boys had exposure to the business from early on. Later, his father started a family business distributing vegetables to commercial restaurants and resorts. Fun fact: most of his business came from selling purple carrots, which are especially in demand because of a popular drink brewed there called Salgam Suyu made from purple carrots, bulgur wheat, salt, and yeast. I asked him why it wasn’t on the menu. He laughed, “I’m not sure my non-Turkish customers are ready for that yet”.

Of course this made me really want to try it. Challenge accepted, Huseyin.

His mother was a strong influence in the kitchen. She taught Huseyin and Harun how to cook traditional recipes. He especially credits her with kindling the spark which led to his love for cooking.

But competition was harsh in Turkey for independent restauranteurs, and the bureaucracy involved was messy and inconsistent. They had friends here in the U.S who encouraged them to come follow their dream, so they took the leap and came to the U.S in 1998.

Coming to America

Relocating from the resort in Turkey to the Airport Marriott here in Nashville made for an easier transition, but the long term goal was to pave the path toward owning their own place.

Although he has travelled to pretty much every area of the country, he says he feels most at home in Nashville. His neighbors, work colleagues, and community are very supportive. “Nashville is a good place to be because it has a slower pace yet the influx of people moving from bigger cities makes it a melting pot.”

It helps a lot also that he has a nephew and niece who live in Santa Monica, both of whom also in the restaurant business. His brother and sister are here in Nashville. His wife eventually immigrated here as well after he got settled in. Apparently, she too is an amazing cook. “She’s a better cook than me!” Huseyin says, once again with a hearty laugh.

Sharing the culture

Huseyin has found that people are very interested in learning about his culture, and he loves to educate his customers about Turkey. Upon looking around the restaurant that night, I had noticed there were people of all ages, races, etc. He considers himself kind of a casual virtual tour guide, telling people what to see and where to go in Turkey. He gives advice if they’re worried about security, cultural differences, things like that. He especially loves to talk shop about the food.

Hopes for his family, and for others like them.

His face brightens when I ask him what his hopes for the future are here in America.

“I would love to see the little ones find their passion here.”

He says he feels fortunate to have been able to reach the goals he had set for himself, goals that have made him a successful businessman and a well liked member of the community. He’d like to see others have the same opportunity.

When I asked what advice he could give to any immigrated restauranteurs just starting out, he paused thoughtfully for a second.

“The secret to success for any restaurant is happy employees. “This is why we have very little turnover“ he says, “there’s ownership from everyone who works here. We all share the same passion for what we do.”

He also sites steadfastness as a contributing factor. “I stayed persistent when I was first starting out,” he says, “throughout the challenges of financing, all the way around to the everyday ways we try to make dining here a special experience for our customers. It’s not hard to stay persistent when working for something you love.”

Right on time, to punctuate the “special experience for our customers” concept, Deniz shows up to the table with dessert.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

“It’s called Kunefe, it’s a special dessert, you won’t find it in too many places here.” He says.

I have never had anything like it. “Divine” may be an understatement. It’s super thin layers of rolled pastry, shredded and baked with unsalted cheese drizzled with light syrup.

It was a sweet way to cap off a wonderful, educational evening. If you’re in the Nashville area, try Huseyin’s place, you won’t regret it.

Anatolia Restaurant
48 White Bridge Road / Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 356-1556 ~or~ (615) 356-1551

Author: Laura Crowley-Gunnoe - http://Writing.Com/authors/lollycrow

Mrs. B’s Reggae Cafe

Mrs B’s Reggae Café — Jamaican food to delight every palate
Marilyn Forsythe / Chef Neville Forsythe

Unfortunately this restaurant has closed. Please enjoy reading the article and consider supporting restaurants in your area.

First Visit to the Restaurant

The intoxicating aroma of fresh herbs and pungent spices of Jamaican food waft through the kitchen door to greet me as I step into the doorway of Mrs. B’s Reggae Café on Broad Street. Within a few seconds, a waitress with a warm smile said hello and invited me to find a seat wherever I liked. I looked around the room and noticed a handful of customers seated at a few of the tables, nicely arranged inside the modestly spaced building. One side of the wall was painted with a mural showcasing a relaxing spot on the beach in the Caribbean.

Mrs. B's Reggae Cafe interior
Caribbean Mural

I found a table with four chairs by the window and made my way there. Once seated, I gazed outside and smiled, feeling content to be inside this warm café with incredible aromas reminiscent of my grandmother’s kitchen and away from the busy city street bustling with traffic. When the waitress came by to take my order, I was still trying to decide what I wanted to eat. Naturally, my first thought was to go for the jerk chicken. So I asked the waitress whose name I later learned was ‘Zina,’ the best way to combine my order of jerk chicken, seasoned cabbage and rice and peas.  With her recommendation, I was set and went for the quarter jerk chicken entree with an option of two sides; cabbage and rice and peas.

Jamaican food - Jerk chicken
Jerk Chicken with Cabbage, Rice, and Peas

My meal came out within minutes of placing the order. It was delightful to see. My eyes feasted on the colorful array of Jamaican food so artfully arranged on the plate, it looked more like an entrée one would enjoy at a fine dining restaurant than a dish from a casual bistro like this one. The fragrance from the food was absolutely intoxicating for my senses. I began with the jerk chicken and Oh my! The chicken was moist, succulent and flavorful. It had a nice, spicy and smoky taste.  Next, I was ready to sample the cabbage.  It was not at all what I expected. I was so thrilled by the taste of fresh herbs, light spices and the crispiness of the vegetable. I had never had cabbage like this before and would certainly add this to my list of favorite dishes. The rice and peas had all the right spices and was quite yummy.  I had also requested a sampling of the jerk marinade – the extra, extra, extra hot. The waitress had already informed me about the specialness of the sauce. She told me the sauce is only served upon special request because of the nature of its ingredients and the level of spicyness it holds.  I told her that I could handle it. And I added the sauce to my dish. For those who enjoy the next level of spicyness, you’ll love this sauce.  For all others, trust me when I say the sauce delivers on its name.  I kept my cold glass of water close by and sipped as I ate my meal. It was just what my palate was craving.

Mrs. B's Reggae Cafe specials
Handwritten Specialties Menu

The Genesis of the Restaurant

Three and a half years and counting… who knew the genesis of Mrs. B’s Reggae Café really began with serving up traditional rum cakes?

“It all started with the rum cake. I was selling the traditional Jamaican rum cakes at the Chattanooga market and working another temporary office job,” Marilyn recalls.

The traditional Jamaican rum cake is a popular dessert enjoyed by families during holidays and other special occasions. It is a rich, fruit-laden confection soaked in a number of liquors that may include port wine or even stout, but always include rum. Core ingredients also include butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and few other spices. The addition of alcohol not only flavors this seasonal treat, but also preserves it for weeks. It’s enjoyed with a cup of coffee, tea or a customary glass of rum.  it’s a delicacy that has deep cultural and historical roots for Jamaicans.

The rum cakes Marilyn was offering at the market were selling quickly and customers were requesting more. That’s when Marilyn and her husband, Neville began researching local sites where they could not only offer desserts with rum cakes as the main attraction, but also coffee, special cocktails, sandwiches and much more.

They began scouting local sites in the heart of the city, areas with reasonable traffic and accessible to both locals and tourists. They found a spot on Broad Street just on the outskirts of St. Elmo that had housed a few different restaurants over the years, eateries that just didn’t quite catch on with the locals, so the building was up for lease. The Forsythes expressed an interest in leasing the building but had to wait until a prospective client bowed out.

“The building was up for lease and I called the property owner and he said, ‘Oh, I wish you had called me sooner.’ I have somebody looking at it. if things don’t work out I’ll let you know,” Marilyn explained.

And as luck would have it two weeks later, the Forsythes got the phone call they had been waiting for. The property manager accepted their offer to lease the building and they moved forward with their plans to get the site ready for opening day. Mrs. B’s Reggae Café, Chattanooga’s only authentic Jamaican food destination, was born on June 19, 2014.

Meet the Restaurateur

‘Amazing food’ has always been front and center for this Chattanooga restaurateur whose roots hail from Jamaica, some thirty years ago.  Marilyn Forsythe and her husband Chef Neville have called the Scenic City home for over three decades. They have three adult children and one grandson.

However, the restaurant is now their full time ‘baby.’ Chef Neville works seven days a week and his day in the restaurant kitchen begins at 9 a.m. and lasts until close to midnight. Marilyn handles the business side of things along with creating those unforgettable rum cakes. She begins her baking prep work in the early morning and has servers that setup the restaurant dining room in preparation for serving lunch and dinner. During the week, they open up Wednesday through Friday for lunch at 11 a.m.  and close briefly at 3 p.m.  Then, they open again for dinner at 4:30 p.m. until closing time at 10:00 p.m.  Saturday it’s a 12 p.m. start until 10:00 p.m. Sundays hours are 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Quality ingredients and a global culinary expertise are the common thread for the couple behind the cuisine at Mrs B’s. Chef Neville got his start as a Navy cook many years ago and fine tuned his culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America.  Also growing up in a household where good food was an everyday occurrence was just a bonus.

“Being a Navy cook was part of my roots, and it’s not just opening cans and cooking that way. I went to school and sat in a classroom and took tests to learn how to cook, keeping cultural and dietary requirements in mind,” Neville said.

“You’re cooking for hundreds of people several times a day (referring to his years of service in the Navy.) It was fascinating and wonderful. Then what I learned at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) was fine tuning my cooking style. What I do now on a daily basis is to take those experiences and add my special touch.”

His wife, Marilyn who attended Shortwood Teacher’s College in Jamaica, also shares a similar background where excellent tasting Jamaican food and quality ingredients go hand in hand. She still remembers as a young girl, helping her mother gather organic produce for cooking.

“I remember when I was growing up and helping my mom cook. She had a vegetable garden and she would send me out to get fresh herbs that she would put in the pot right away. And she didn’t just cook Jamaican dishes or cuisine. She also loved to try different dishes as well. She wouldn’t hesitate to grab the cookbook and try something new at least one day out of the week. That would be the day that I am flying home from school to sample her cooking. She would make these meatballs and gravy, green beans and her macaroni and cheese was out of this world.  When she makes the traditional ackee (fruit) and saltfish (traditional Jamaican dish), it’s so good.”

With the bar set pretty high by their parents cooking, the Forsythes say creating amazing dishes with quality ingredients became part of their DNA. That’s another reason why they make their dishes from scratch. It’s a labor of love says Chef Neville but he loves it. Neville is mentoring a young chef in training who helps him with some of the kitchen preparations. He shares his culinary knowledge with him – helping to grow the next generation of dynamic chefs.

“I have a wonderful young man who works with me. He’s been with us for a year. I give him reading assignments. I recently loaned him a book called ‘How to read a French fry,’ it’s a cookbook that focuses on the science of cooking.”

For this restaurateur, the science of cooking is essential to how he approaches his cooking which translates into reinventing dishes and experimenting with flavors and textures. Chef Neville travels around the country and brings back new and fresh ideas which he uses to create different dishes and provide diners with a real distinctive experience. With that, customers can expect to see innovative and unique dishes on the restaurant menu from time to time. Marilyn says customers have been very receptive to trying something new.

“We try to introduce folks to different and unique flavors. Too many people think Jamaican food is just jerk chicken or jerk pork and hot peppers. There’s so much more to it. We did a dinner last summer at the restaurant. We invited people to come in and try prepared dishes similar to what you eat at the home of a Jamaican family.  People enjoyed the experience. It was a family style dinner with everyone sitting around a big table having conversation.”

The Cuisine: Jamaican Food

Every dish is made from scratch including the beef patties which is a staple at a Jamaican food restaurant. Chef Neville makes the dough and rolls them out one at a time. Cooking to please varied palates takes years of experience and planning. And Jamaican cuisine can be different for every family. Some may like it hot and others may prefer a milder flavor.  There are vegetarian options and gluten free offerings as well.

Chef Neville’s Special

Let’s explore some of Chef Neville’s special creations. A visit to this unique Jamaican restaurant is not complete without a sampling of a few of Chef  Neville’s special appetizers which includes the award winning Lollipop Jerk Wings and the Reggae Rolls. For those adventurous types, a taste of De Voodoo Chicken will make your dining experience here truly unforgettable. A word of caution — it is not for the faint of heart! Take my word for it!

The Reggae Rolls which can be great for special occasions, is a play on the Jamaican reggae theme, they resemble spring rolls and are filled with various vegetables including carrots then deep fried. When you bite into it, you’ll hear a crunch sound and the flavor is full and robust.

Then there are the Lollipop Wings which are regular full size wings, cut with the bones sticking out. These are also great for parties. Chef Neville was first introduced to the idea of lollipop wings while studying at the Culinary Institute of America. He decided to bring it to Chattanooga and added his special touch. Now It’s  become quite a hit with customers.  And it’s no wonder–the wings have won many awards.

Jamaican food
Lollipop Wings & Reggae Rolls

The Jerk Stuffed Burger is a whole lot of burger with a flavorful experience. It can easily be named the best darn burger in town. They’ve got my son’s vote and he has had many a burger both near and far.

The process for making the burger begins with a 10.5 ounce ground beef, which is then seasoned with various spices and then mixed in with chopped jerk chicken. It takes 20 minutes to prepare. It is served on a fresh bun with lettuce and tomatoes plus a side of grilled potatoes garnished with rosemary. If you’re in a hurry, the restaurateur will gladly recommend another dish. But it is worth the wait, if you can spare the time.

Jerk stuffed burger - Jamaican food
Jerk Stuffed Burger

One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes – De Voodoo Chicken – first appeared to Chef Neville in a dream.

“I woke up one morning and it came to me. At the time, I had no idea what it was going to be, but I knew it would be something special.  I thought about it, and drew from my culinary experiences, and then I knew what I wanted and just began creating the dish.”

What’s in the dish?  Boneless skinless chicken breasts, sautéed onions, bell peppers, hot peppers (scotch bonnet or habanera peppers – they use whichever one is available) shallots and garlic. The dish is plated with rice, sliced pineapples and fresh coconut, these help with the flavor and softens the pepper a little bit. According to Chef Neville, this dish has become their number one seller. The term Voodoo is not always warmly embraced because of its religious connotations but in this particular case, the name adds an element of mystery to the restaurant menu options.

And oh the cabbage, the cabbage is a must.  Customers rave about this side dish which takes just minutes to prepare. It takes four minutes altogether. First, you boil the cabbage in salted water for two to three minutes. Then cool it off and when a customer places the order, it is then sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs so it remains nice and crispy, not overcooked. It’s like no other cabbage dish.

The drinks are refreshing, colorful and very tasty. There are a variety of non-alcoholic beverages along with beer. And if you are in the mood for wine, the restaurant has a partnership with Imbibe, a local wine and spirits shop – customers can contact Imbibe for a recommendation on the best wine selections to pair with Jamaican dishes offered at Mrs B’s.  Since Mrs. B’s doesn’t offer wine, they invite customers to bring their own and just note there will be a small corkage fee.

Voodoo chicken - Jamaican food
The Infamous Voodoo Chicken

Making the rum cake

This is Marilyn’s specialty. She has been making rum cakes for as long as she can remember. The signature traditional rum cake is sweet, succulent and delicious. It’s so delightful that customers from California to Canada and Jamaica order them regularly, sometimes by the dozen.

“It takes a good four hours to make, between prepping, mixing and baking.  When you do something for so long you start to figure out different little things about it – the science behind it. I’m realizing certain things are going to make it even better and better. I have customers who tell me these cakes are so good and I say wait until you taste the next one.”

Staying connected and much more

Staying connected is part of what keeps Marilyn busy, besides taking care of customers. She’s made sure that Mrs. B’s Reggae Café customers can remain engaged on social media.  The restaurant has a following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  The Yelp reviews were organically established. Customers began posting reviews after their dining experience at Mrs B’s which have been overwhelmingly positive.  And so the Forsythes let it continue, grateful for grassroots effort which gives them insight on feedback from customers.

You can connect with and follow Mrs. B’s Reggae Café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A new partnership with Uber Eats set to launch in mid-March of this year will offer Jamaican food delivery for customers, which the restaurateurs hope will give the business a much needed boost.

Website traffic could also see a bump. Customers can order a variety of Chef Neville’s special sauce creations online. There’s always an option to call the restaurant for a more personalized service. They can package several at a time and minimize shipping costs.

There is a steady stream of customers but like any business, there’s always room for growth.  Catering has provided some additional business. In fact, the restaurant receives requests for catering parties and special events from time to time. However, they limit their catering orders so they can focus their attention on restaurant customers — ensuring that each customer that walks through the restaurant doors enjoys a unique dining experience. When the Forsythes do agree to cater an event, they first invite the client to come in to discuss their catering needs. This allows them to make that personal connection which is such a part of their warm Jamaican hospitality.

Mrs. B's Reggae Cafe
Jamaican International Soccer Team’s Signatures From Their Visit

Words of wisdom from Mrs B’s for those trying Jamaican food for the first time

Just come in with an open mind…

The first time people come into the restaurant, Marilyn Forsythe says she tells customers to start with the most popular dish from Jamaica which for many is jerk chicken or jerk pork. Other well known cuisine are rice and peas and curry goat.

“Start with those basics then taste and explore other dishes when you visit again.  If you live here in town, it means you’ll be back again, because the restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes that will please just about any palate. Not everything is hot but everything is flavorful.”

“I had a couple come in one time and ask me, what is the best thing on the menu? And I said, everything is amazing. I’m not just saying that. You have to decide to try a dish and then the next time venture out and try something else,” she said.

An open invitation to try authentic Jamaican food

You’re invited to embark upon a unique dining adventure… Chef Neville and Marilyn promise an unforgettable dining experience where quality ingredients and amazing Jamaican food will bring you back again and again.

Mrs B’s Reggae Café is unassuming. When you walk in, you’ll take in the view quickly and will probably briefly gaze upon the mural painted by a local artist featured on the right hand side of the wall, showcasing a Caribbean theme. The scene paints a picture of a relaxing spot along the beach on the coast. If you happen to visit during the evening, you will most likely hear the upbeat tempo of Jamaican music playing in the background.

Expect the light hearted laughter and bubbly warm personalities of the restaurant owners and wait staff to make you feel truly at home. Yeah mon!!!

Visit Mrs. B’s Reggae Cafe at

3103 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37408

Phone: (423) 702-5808

About the Author:
Chinyere’s WordPress Blog
Chinyere Ubamadu is a marketing communications professional and freelance writer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is a food enthusiast who enjoys global cuisine and traveling. Her travels and foodie adventures have taken her to four continents. When she’s not applying her creativity and problem solving skills to meet business needs, she’s challenging herself hiking, running or practicing yoga.