The food in Istanbul which The Grey Traveller sampled was so lip smackingly good that it deserves its own dedicated blog post. It’s the only destination which I have been to where the food has been very good at all establishments.
First mention has to go to breakfast at Neorion Hotel where the Grey Traveller stayed. Highlight for me was the refreshing fruit and nut salad which was part of the large spread offered buffet style every morning. My praise goes to the chef who chopped the fruit and nuts so small. With a filling breakfast lunch isn’t really needed but I did what the locals do and enjoyed meze late afternoon.
I happened upon the chilled laid back atmosphere of the Kayikci restaurant in the Sultanhamet district. Not sure what all the ingredients were but it did include vine leaves, fish, cous cous and a mammoth pitta style bread. All this washed down with an obligatory Grey Traveller glass of white wine.
The cobbled, brightly lit alleyways in the Sirdeci area is wall to wall restaurants. A word of warning – outside most restaurants waiters are planted to meet and greet but their main objective is to tell you about their good food/free drink/lack of taxes etc. so that you will choose them. However I have to say that without exception they would graciously accept your refusal and allow you to walk on by.
The New Hatay Restaurant was a favourite for The Grey Traveller and despite being December it was comfortable enough to sit outside with tables close to the building and plenty of heaters. Here you have the theatre of flaming hot clay pots brought to your tables, cracked open and steaming stews served.The waiters bring out the pots which appear to be on fire, they dance around with a tea towel and then seem to crack off the top of the chimney pot ready to pour the stew, dangerous occupation!
About £15 a head and another reason why I chose this place to celebrate New Year. I can not effuse enough about the complimentary baklava we were given along with some hot sweet apple tea.
About £15 a head and another reason why I chose this place to celebrate New Year.
Istanbul doesn’t seem the obvious place to take afternoon tea but The Grey Traveller often gets overcome by greed and with windows like The Hafiz Mustafa cafe I was drawn inside.The café is busy with regulars and tourists alike. (No better recommend than a cafe full of locals who know the waiters.) The waiters will always try and find a table to squeeze you in, their service is quick and efficient and the atmosphere is mad, crazy and buzzing, you must try it. The chocolate cake beat me and that doesn’t often happen!
Can Oba in the Sirdeci neighbourhood looks unremarkable amongst the row of other restaurants and cafes; there are no greeters and meeters because they don’t need to encourage business in fact booking is strongly recommended. Each dish is served with an explanation by the chef, he clearly loves to serve and nurture his guests. In fact you feel like a guest in his home it is that small and friendly. (They do not serve alcohol as the are near to a mosque.)
The Grey Traveller ate Potato and Caramelised Onion Soup and Feta and Spinach Lasagne, far too full to eat dessert.
New Year’s Eve saw me returning to the little cobbled streets in Sirdeci where I was welcomed in The New Hatay at about 10pm. Musicians wandered the streets and our waiters joined in the fast and furious dancing outside whilst I burned my hands clapping! Ended the evening with honey and pistachio baklava which I had been drooling over all day!
Of course there are the western chains if you don’t fancy eating like a local. There are also plenty of stalls in the bazaars where you can try Turkish delight, olives and spices. If nothing else the stalls make great photos.
Were we just lucky with our choices? Is it just Istanbul which offers tasty cuisine in Turkey? Great menus Istanbul, thank you and cheers from The Grey Traveller.