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anil

Istanbul

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Two restaurants to report on.

Kosebasi (Bronz Sokak No. 5, Macka, Istanbul; 0212 230 38 68) advertises that it was named on of the 50 best restaurants by Conde Nast Traveller in 1999, and displays pictures of the various celebrities and dignitaries that have eaten there. My take: good, but nothing special. It's possible that I just didn't do it right. I was there for lunch instead of dinner, and was there alone so I couldn't really take advantage of the mezes. Attentive staff and English-language menu, though.

Haci Abdullah (next to Aga Mosque, Sakuzagaci Caddesi No. 17, Beyoglu, Istanbul; 0212 293 85 61) was much better. Near Taksim Square, it was everything I wanted in a Turkish meal. We (there were eight of us) started out with a nice assortment of cold mezes: various beans, a marinated artichoke, stuffed eggplant and pepper and cabbage, pickle salad, and a vegetable lemon soup. Then we had an interesting dish of stewed beef over mashed eggplant (begendili kebap), lamb shank wrapped in eggplant slices (kuzu incik patlicanli), and shredded chiken over some sort of mashed wheat. Desserts were delicious: samsa, a quince dessert with cream and fruit ((ayva kaymakli: many language problems here: "it's like an apple but it's not an apple"), and some sort of milk pudding. Much crushed pistashio over everything. Good food, good service, good fun. The restaurant advertises that is is ISO 9002 certified, which amuses me.

Bruce

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Here are a couple more recommendations and observations.

Istiklal is a pedestrian street south of Taksim Square. It's a fun place to experience the press of people taking a stroll and enjoying themselves for the evening. Haci Baba, a frequently-recommended restaurant for tourists, is located on this street. Friends of ours who ate there were not overly impressed. On our nights strolling there, we only saw clusters of obvious tourists waiting to get in so the restaurant may be suffering from tourist indifference.

We ate at one of the restaurants in the Ciceki Pasagi and had a good experience after a somewhat rocky start. The Ciceki Pasagi is an arcade containing many similar-appearing restaurants. Each restaurant has about three or four tables for six people outside their restaurant proper in addition to a conventional restarant. The arcade tables are less smokey since air comes in the open access to the pedestrian street. Strolling musicians come around to serenade the tables -- sometimes competing groups -- but musicians never played for our table. We arrived for dinner between 7:30 and 8:00 both nights and were able to get a table with no wait. Within a short time, every table filled up. We were told that the eating and raki drinking goes on until quite late.

When we entered the arcade, our group of six was accosted by each maitre d'. With similar menus, we had little to use as a basis for distinguishing among the restaurants. Finally, we chose a restaurant that was bringing a tray of wrapped sample of their mezze options to already-seated. Those looked appealing and the great decision was made. Until then, we must have had a deer-in-the-headlights look.

Highlights from the meal included rice-stuffed vine leaves (heavily scented with cinnamon and other spices), red lentil soup, sauteed eggplant with tomato sauce, and lamb casserole.

Leaving the arcade, turn right and continue walking south on Istikal. You'll come to a Turkish ice-cream store. Turkish ice-cream has a gummy, elastic texture which was not universally appreciated, but definitely should be experience. (The name of the ice cream store was something like Mando. At any rate, it's an obvious ice cream shop.) Not surprisingly, the pistachio and walnut flavor ice creams were great hits and people who ordered the mango sorbet (portrayed as ice cream) were very pleased.

We ate a nice lunch consisting of three shared mezzes at Pandelli, in the Spice Market. The standout dish was an eggplant creation with a name something like "burek." We expected this to be eggplant encased in phyllo, but was, in fact, more like an eggplant custard topped with a single slice of donner kebap and the ubiquitous grilled mild chile pepper. The Turkish restaurant near our home serves delicious tarama, and we were looking forward to eating some in Turkey. In fact, Pandelli was the only restaurant with tarama on the menu in all our travels, and that may be a function of the fact that it's essentailly a Greek place. The tamara was much saltier than we are used to, but the taste grew on us.

After the expensive surprise of ordering fish at two seaside restaurants in Side, we didn't order any more fish meals. Our first fish lunch in Side was very expensive but so delicious and the scenery was so enjoyable that we weren't distressed. (We were told in advance what the price would be for the seafood we chose.) We quite casual about our second harbor-side lunch, and didn't ask prices. Whoops! We spent more on that lunch than we have ever spent on any lunch anywhere in the world and in a price range that is a special event price range for dinners. Let's just say you can buy a small tribal rug for what we paid for lunch!

We got home at midnight last night, but my body is still on Istanbul time so I'm up writing. If I have a chance to share more food experiences -- both shopping and restaurant dining -- I will.

Indy 67

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"We got home at midnight last night, but my body is still on Istanbul time so I'm up writing. If I have a chance to share more food experiences -- both shopping and restaurant dining -- I will."

During a trip to the Grand Bazaar, we ate lunch within the bazaar itself, at Havuzulu. This inexpensive restaurant offers donner kebap and other meat kebaps sliced or grilled to order. However, the majority of the food choices are available by choosing from many large casseroles holding both hot entrees and vegetable accompaniments. We had eaten at a similar type restaurant the previous day, but no one spoke English so we didn't know how to do anything other than order donner kebap and mixed salad by pointing. At Havuzulu, an English-speaking maitre d' instructed us to choose from the casseroles. I made some guesses about the contents of each pan, but an English speaking waiter eventually joined us and rapidly rattled off the names of the dishes in each casserole.

My husband ordered sliced lamb on a bed of mixed vegetables topped with gratineed bechamel sauce. I ordered meat stuffed eggplant. We also shared a half order of meat-stuffed vine leaves. The food was pleasant but not memorable. The premises were clean and the wait staff was friendly. In keeping with the hawker atmosphere of the bazaar, a random waiter approached us while we ate to shill for a ceramics store somewhere in the bazaar.

At the Spice Market, we purchased pistachios, spices, dried fruit, saffron, and more from Hayat. (Hayat is located a couple of stalls inside the market at the entrance along the Bosphorus. A better clue to locate this place is to say that it is across the aisle, but within sight of the entrance to Pandeli restaurant.)

My husband and I had been part of a group organized to see the total solar eclipse plus tour some of Turkey's many ruins and museums. Our guide, a resident of Istanbul, was a particularly kind and engaging person who really tried to respond to everyone's needs during the days we were together. When he recommended Hayat for our shopping in the Spice Market, we were only too happy to follow his recommendation. I assume he got a kickback from our purchases, but that didn't bother me at all. In a situation in which all the vendors in the Spice Market seem largely interchangeable we had no other basis to decide who to patronize; we were happy to have a recommendation.

Hayat has a shrink wrapping machine on the premises, and instantaneously prepared our purchases for legal entry into the US. On our customs form, we answered "yes" to the question "Are you bringing any food, nuts, etc. into the country? However, I also added the words "shrink wrapped" on the form. Since we appeared to be over our duty-free allowance, we were told we had to see a customs agent. At first, we incorrectly went to the agriculture agent and handed him the card. He saw the words "shrink wrapped" on my form and never even asked to see our food purchases. He did ask if we had purchased any meat. Since we had not, he pointed us in the direction of the correct customs officer even as his colleagues were confiscating bags of lemons and mangoes from other tourists.

Indy 67

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I recommend:

Rami

Utangac Sokak 6

Cankurtaran

0212 517 6593

This restaurant is in an old Ottoman house across from the Blue Mosque. My husband took me there for my birthday two years ago. We had dinner on the rooftop whilst listening to live Dervish music that was playing in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque across the street. The food is Ottoman food and was very good. The ambiance was romantic.

The restaurant is named after the owner's father, Rami Uluer, who is a famous Turkish artist. His artwork is all over the restaurant.

They do not accept credit cards.

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Haci Abdullah (next to Aga Mosque, Sakuzagaci Caddesi No. 17, Beyoglu, Istanbul; 0212 293 85 61) was much better. Near Taksim Square, it was everything I wanted in a Turkish meal.  We (there were eight of us) started out with a nice assortment of cold mezes: various beans, a marinated artichoke, stuffed eggplant and pepper and cabbage, pickle salad, and a vegetable lemon soup. Then we had an interesting dish of stewed beef over mashed eggplant (begendili kebap), lamb shank wrapped in eggplant slices (kuzu incik patlicanli), and shredded chiken over some sort of mashed wheat. Desserts were delicious: samsa, a quince dessert with cream and fruit ((ayva kaymakli: many language problems here: "it's like an apple but it's not an apple"), and some sort of milk pudding. Much crushed pistashio over everything.  Good food, good service, good fun. The restaurant advertises that is is ISO 9002 certified, which amuses me.

I have to say that I found Haci Abdullah way over-rated... and over-priced. The service was awful - in fact, our server tried to pull a fast one on us - more than once. I posted my experience somewhere on eGullet... I'll try to dredge up the thread.

You can see some photos of my meal here.

... but, I would have to agree that the quince dessert with clotted cream was terrific... the high point of our meal.

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

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I have to say that I found Haci Abdullah way over-rated... and over-priced.  The service was awful - in fact, our server tried to pull a fast one on us - more than once.

I was taken there by locals, which probably improved the food and certainly improved the service.

Bruce

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Any further updates? I'm spending (alas) only 24 hours in Istanbul in June and the pressure is on for a romantic Turkish dinner - with live music would be nice.

Check through the recent weekly blogs -- I'm sorry I can't pinpoint it immediately, but there was a great week-long blog from an eG member in Turkey.

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I never know on what authority or by what standards these choices are made but for what it’s worth May’s Conde Nast Traveler lists 95 “hot tables” that includes Tuus in Istanbul.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Any further updates? I'm spending (alas) only 24 hours in Istanbul in June and the pressure is on for a romantic Turkish dinner - with live music would be nice.

I was the one who did the blog, the title is "Istanbul Glutfests."

I think Kumkapı would be the place to go if you want music and food. It's not low-key music though - it's Roman (Gypsy) musicians playing their own take on Istanbul music. Kör Agop is decent. As for prices, wine is what they'll get you on; it's heavily taxed here. If you like anise, get rakı, it's great with fish. It's not really high fish season but certain things are available all year round. Çiya is good for just really good food, no alcohol; you get to do a ferry across the Bosphorus to get there which is sorta romantic... I just did a post on Çiya in the Middle East section.

Another really good kebab place is Antep Sofrasi in Yusufpaşa. Ιt's very easy to get to if you are staying in Sultanahmet - just take the tram away from the point (i.e. not towards Sirkeci/Galata but in the opposite direction, past the Grand Bazaar etc.) and get off at Yusufpaşa. That's 5 stops out of Sultanahmet. When you get off, continue up the street in the same direction and you'll see on your right the Hotel G. Sunay. Antep Sofrasi is there. It's slightly formal, white tablecloths and waiters with bowties; the kebab is really wonderful there.

Edited to add: D'oh! Also very nice, but no music, is "Melengeç" which is right on the square in Arnavutköy. Taxi is the easiest way to get there if you don't know Istanbul. It is in an old restored house with a nice view of the Bosphorus. The owners are really sweet people too. It's food is based on wild herbs of Turkey's Aegean region and the area of Tire in particular; they also have a couple of meat dishes. They also have wine and rakı. I just happened to translate their menu recently (but they haven't put it on the website yet); here it is. It's closed Mondays.

-------------------------

Useful as a rootstock for grafted pistachio and mastic trees, the Melengeç, or Terebinth tree produces brilliantly colored shoots in the spring. In the Aegean region, these are gathered and prepared with olive oil as a unique and delicious appetizer.

Here at “Melengeç,” we present the delicious flavors of the wild herbs which hold such an important place in the Aegean and Mediterranean regional cuisine.

Since ancient times, man has used wild herbs both for food and as medicine for his ailments. Our country also has a rich tradition of herb cuisine, but the changes in our society have all but annihilated it in the cities, and in the country it has lost much of its former importance. It was this that inspired us to open Melengeç, where our aim is to introduce the flavors of the Aegean and Mediterranean. Everything you eat here has been collected in the wild and prepared fresh before losing any of its freshness. Thus our foods are light, and imbued with the healing properties of the herbs on which they are based. We hope you will leave Melengeç with many fond memories.

Starters

101 Terebinth in Olive Oil

Terebinth shoots, lemon, salt, olive oil

102 Wild Chicory in Olive Oil

Wild Chicory, lemon, salt and olive oil

103 Wild Radish Greens in Olive Oil

Wild Radish Greens, lemon, salt and olive oil

104 Wild Mustard in Olive Oil

Wild Mustard Greens, lemon, salt and olive oil

105 Glasswort in Olive Oil

Glasswort, vinegar (lemon) and olive oil

106 Rock Samphire in Olive Oil

Rock samphire, vinegar and olive oil

107 Wild Amaranth in Olive Oil

Wild amaranth, lemon, salt and olive oil

108 Wild Cranesbill Sautee

Wild cranesbill, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

109 Lamb’s Quarters Sautee

Lamb’s quarters, onion, bulgur, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

110 Hawkbit Sautee

Hawkbit root, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

111 Mixed Herb Sautee

Wild fennel, mallow, wild cranesbill, nettle, amaranth, onion and olive oil

112 Wild Amaranth Sautee

Amaranth, onion, sun-dried tomato sauce and olive oil

113 Wild Vine Asparagus Sautee

Wild vine asparagus, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

114 WildAsparagus Sautee

Wild asparagus, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

115 Greenbriar Sautee

Tender greenbriar tips, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

116 Beet Greens Sautee

Beet greens, onion, sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil

201 Stuffed Squash Blossom

Squash flower, rice, onion, parsley, dill, fresh mint, tomatoes and olive oil

202 Stuffed Vine Leaves

Vine leaves, rice, onion, parsley, dill, fresh mint, tomatoes and olive oil

203 Nettles in Yogurt

Nettles, drained yogurt with garlic, olive oil

204 Eggplant in Yogurt

Eggplant grilled over hot coals, drained yogurt with garlic, olive oil

205 Carrots and Walnuts in Yogurt

Carrots, walnuts, drained yogurt with garlic, olive oil

206 Manca (Smothered Eggplant)

Eggplant cooked over hot coals, peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, garlic and olive oil

207 Spicy Grilled Peppers

xxx pepper cooked over hot coals, hot pepper sauce and walnuts

208 Fresh Black-Eyed Peas in Olive Oil

Green blackeyed peas, lemon, tomatoes and olive oil

209 Aegean Style Artichokes in Olive Oil

Small wild-type artichokes and broad beans, onion and olive oil

210 Okma

Tomatoes, peppers, nettles when in season, çökelek cheese, onion, cucumber and olive oil

211 İzvar

Tomatoes, peppers and pickled cheese

213 Tulum Cheese

A sharp local cheese aged in a skin bag

Hot Appetizers

Eggplant “Filets”

Eggplant fried in a special batter

Keşkek

Aegean style hulled whole wheat berried and meat

Spinach Crepe

Crepe filled with spinach, onion, sun-dried tomato sauce and olive oil

MAIN DISHES

Tire Köfte in Special Sauce

The famous Tire-style köfte with tomatoes, peppers and butter

Hand-Cut Noodles with Walnuts

Village-style noodles, walnuts, grated tulum cheese and butter

Beef Flank with Almonds

Beef flank, special sauce, almonds and pearl onions

Fish of the Day

(Varies according to season.)

DESSERTS

Şahtutlu

Black Mulberrıes from Tire’s Cambazlı Village with a special local cream cheese.

Lavender Ice Cream

BREAKFAST

Tire Regional Breakfast

Omelet

Menemen

DRINKS

Soft Drinks

Spring Water

Ayran

Fruit Sherbets


Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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I'll be visiting Istanbul next month. This thread is a little old so I'm just wondering if the recommendations remains the same? ;)

We'd like to try something really delicious and Turkish in a restaurant setting. We will stay in the Sultanahmet area but are more than willing to travel anywhere within the city:D

Thanks in advance!

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Tune in to Gastromondial.com which is the site of Vedat Milor, an ultra-serious gastronome from Istanbul. Then send him a note, and I'm sure he will give you as expert a list of recommendations as is possible.

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I'll be visiting Istanbul next month. This thread is a little old so I'm just wondering if the recommendations remains the same? ;)

We'd like to try something really delicious and Turkish in a restaurant setting. We will stay in the Sultanahmet area but are more than willing to travel anywhere within the city:D

Thanks in advance!

i guess this is probably too late to help you , but probably the most useful English language web resource for eating out in Istanbul (especially if you are looking for authenticity rather than international high end dining) is here

If you are still in Istanbul and haven't yet eaten at Ciya - you should!

gethin

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