Turkish Cuisine and the Menu
Located in the heart of State Street since 1979, Husnuís is the first Madison, Wisconsin restaurant to offer authentic Turkish cuisine while continuing the centuries old Turkish culinary practice of creative innovation within a tradition. Like Turkish cuisine itself, Husnuís offers a diversity of dishes reflecting the rich multiplicity of cultures that have flourished along the silk route from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. Bringing with them the wholesome diet of nomadic life based on dairy products such as yoghurt along with meats, grains and vegetables, the Turks entered Asia Minor where, for over one thousand years, the healthy fare of a pastoral past has been enhanced with a wealth of regional vegetables, fruits, aromatic herbs as well as olives and the finest of golden olive oils. Husnuís menu mirrors this history. It also mirrors his own history of experience in cuisines of the Mediterranean as well as regional styles of Turkish cooking. The menu features an abundance of delectable fish dishes, a dietary favorite in Turkey, a country embraced by the shores of three seas with an abundance of trout streams and rivers running through its landscape. Highlights of Husnuís menu are the innovative creations of Husnu himself that draw on the richness of his own culinary heritage and the resources of the local Wisconsin environment.
ďWelcome to Husnuís - Hos Geldiniz,Ē stands at the top of the Menu at Husnuís, for as anyone who has eaten in a Turkish home knows, cooking is an integral aspect of the warmth and generosity of Turkish culture. Husnuís Restaurant is the ideal place to experience not only the delights of a healthy and delicious meal but also the comfort of genuine hospitality. Since 1979, Husnu has taken pleasure and pride in delighting his customers with a rich diversity of delicious and wholesome dishes in a setting described by reviewer Jerry Minnich as ďan exotic restaurant where you can feel totally relaxed in elegant surroundings, and come away with your wallet intact.Ē
Husnu was born in a small village nestled in the mountains of eastern Turkey. In this nurturing environment, he grew up understanding the tremendous care and attention needed in baking bread and preparing nourishing soups and meals for the enjoyment of all from the family crops of wheat, barley, lentils, potatoes, sugar beet greens, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and green beans. Fresh milk, yoghurt, homemade cheeses and shepherdsí salad were a mainstay of this wholesome diet. For special occasions the family celebrated with roasted, baked or grilled lamb, beef and chicken dishes from their own flocks and herds to be enjoyed in the company of friends and neighbors. As a youth, Husnu moved to Istanbul where he studied saz (Anatolian lute) performance with Fahrettin Celik. He developed his skills in Turkish cosmopolitan cuisines and met and married Sarah Moment Atis, a University of Michigan graduate student doing dissertation research at Istanbul University on the novelist Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. The couple moved to Ann Arbor where Sarah completed her Ph.D. and Husnu, already an expert in Ottoman and contemporary Turkish cuisine, gained his knowledge of Italian fare as chef at Casa Dominickís. When the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1976, Husnu located the perfect spot on State Street to open his own restaurant, the first in the city to offer choice selections from Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines. Over the years, with Turkish cuisine at its heart, Husnuís menu has offered favorites from his experience in Italian cooking and regional Mediterranean fare as a whole. Turkish chefs are renowned for creativity and Husnu is no exception. The true delights of his menu are those of his own creation. Try, for example, tavuk dolmasi, chicken breast stuffed with white cheese, spinach and mushroom, topped with a choice of raspberry burgundy or cranberry burgundy sauce. Or taste the original Central Asian Turkish manti (dumpling) filled with seasoned ground meat or with vegetable and cheese, topped with a traditional yoghurt sauce or with a newly created spiced curry sauce.