First class around the world travelfirst.comTURKEY: BEST RESTAURANTS IN ISTANBUL
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Updated 04/02/2014 

Recommended restaurants in Istanbul:  

CINTEMANI (****): Located in the luxurious, centrally located five star hotel Ritz-Carlton, the Centemani Restaurant is chic, though quite informal. Reserve a table with a Bosphorus view -a must!- and peacefully enjoy Swiss-Australian Chef Marcel Nosari light, inventive cuisine. Nosari spent many years in Thailand, where he cooked for the King Bhumibol and the Emperor of Japan. 

Cintemani is the place for fish, lamb, fresh vegetables and pastas, cooked with a  Mediterranean influence; though some dishes reflect the Chef Asian expatriation. Which we like quite a lot. Besides, there is a refined selection of Turkish dishes. We experienced the « Traditional Turkish Dinner Menu », which gives a good idea of what the haute Turkish cuisine tastes like. Featuring « Assorted Turkish Mezzes », an unforgettable « Pan Fried Red Mullet » with Raki Broth, a very tender « Pistachio Crusted Lamb Loin » with Frisk Rice, Sautéed Baby Spinach & Pestil Sauce, and a yummy « Trio of Rice Pudding » with Home made Ice Cream. Fine wines, Cognac, Single Malt Whisky and of course the best brands of Raki were available to emphasize the tastes of this remarkable dinner. Last but not least, there is a good selection of Cuban cigars. 

Average bill is YTL 140 (EUR 80) up. A decent price in such a luxurious hotel. 

CINTEMANI (hotel RITZ CARLTON): Suzer Plaza, Elmadag 
Askerocagi Cad. No: 15      34367 Sisli, Istanbul (Turkey) 
PHONE: (90) 0212 - 334-4444    FACSIMILE: (90) 0212 - 334-4455  

ASITANE (****): Well worth the trip to a remote Istanbul residential area with a character, this pleasant, restaurant is actually unique: specializing in palatial cuisine, it serves Ottoman specialties prepared nowhere else in Istanbul, following almost forgotten centuries old recipes. Needless to say that we felt like Pashas, well treated by the anticipating, friendly staff.  

Our feast  started with a « Mezzes » mix: Assorted Turkish Cheese Platter, Stuffed Vine Leaves with Sour Cherries (a delicacy!), « Bayildi » (assortment of aubergine and zucchini, stuffed with caramelized onions, and cooked in olive oil), and « Fava » (interesting and delicious: creamed broad beans, seasoned with dill and olive oil). Those « Mezzes », are inexpensive:  YTL 12 (EUR 7) for a generous portion. 

Guests like very much round the year specialties. Like the remarkable « Aubergine Stuffed with Grilled Quail », or the rich « Nirbac » (diced lamb, meatball, carrot stew flavored with coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and pomegranate syrup, served with crushed walnuts). All in the YTL 25 – 30 (EUR 14 - 17) range. The short selection of seafood is everything (light, palatable, fresh)... but original. Nevertheless, we would like to warmly recommend the « Fillet of Sea Bass with Aromatic Herbs » (YTL 30 / EUR 14), ionized and wisely spiced. Originality and tradition comes back with the desserts. The « Pounded Almond Halva, with powdered Sugar » and the « Pine Mastic Pudding », served with almonds, pistachio, seasonal fruits and pomegranate seeds in a rose water syrup, will not please the calorie hunters... but the gourmet will be mouth watering (desserts cost YTL 10 – 14 / EUR 6 – 8)! 

Good selection of wine. The « Chardonnay Serafin » and the « Karma, Gamy Bogazkere , 2002» are good values. More exclusive wines and Champagne are available. But do like us: have it all with a couple of glasses of Yeni Raki. 

When leaving the restaurant, turn 20 meters right, and DO visit the 11th  century Byzantine church St. Savior in Chora: one of the most remarkable in the world! 

ASITANE: Kariye Camii Sok. 18, Edirnekapi 
PHONE:  (90) 0212 - 534-8414  

POSEIDON (****): Bebek is the posh area in Istanbul; and Poseidon is the posh restaurant in Bebek. This means that you just can expect the best of everything in the yacht club like cool dinning room, with an even cooler terrace. Seat by the Bosphorus, and see the yachts gliding on the still water. Uniformed waiters come to you with fishes which were still enjoying a pleasant life a few hours ago, letting you point out the species and size you prefer. The red sea gilt head bream, dusky grouper, pagrus, king prawns and squids are part of the daily offer. Unless you would like to spoiled yourself with lobster. Only the calamari and the octopus come frozen during the off season.  

We ordered grilled  squids and salted whitebait. A modest, though palatable choice. Our Sole Cardinal was more aristocratic. This is a Poseidon favourite with the king prawns, which we found crunchy, slightly spicy, actually yummy. Fish comes with light and fresh glasswort, wild radish, dandelion, or wild chicory. 

Service is not slow, but leave you enough time to enjoy those delicacies. In Mediterranean countries, eating slowly to enjoy and respect the food is part of the basic education. No fast food here!  

This is of course not a cheap place. A YTL 170 (EUR 100) bill is quite common here. But the food is worth the relative expense. Only the smell of the « Cohiba » cigars smoked by local playboys (show business, diplomats, actors) comes free of charge. 

A place where we would like to come back, again and again. 

POSEIDON: Cevdetpaia St. No.58 Küçük Bebek-Istanbul 
PHONE: (90) 0212 - 263-3823

SUNSET GRILL & BAR (****): Four star for this hip, trendy restaurant amazing location atop a residential hill, and smart design, which should definitely be visited on a clear Summer or Spring night: just to make sure to find out a table in the lushy garden terrace, commanding a breathtaking  panorama over the Bosphorus Strait and the spectacular sunset. Piped music, featuring 1960's – 70's French hits (Adamo, Aznavour, Delpech and Sardou), favourized romance: at least for middle-aged local guests...  

Now, what about the food? Frankly speaking, we found it blend, poorly cooked... Sometimes inedible. Which was the case of our Kamtchatka king crab. One should be a dummy to make this noble, wonderful king crab flesh so flabby, overcooked... and « enriched » with a scandalous mixture of "Cajun"(?) spices and sugar! The chef did it! It never rains but it pours: there is also a « Sushi Bar », which might kill a Japanese samurai... We experienced better sushis in Marx & Spencer coffee shops, or in some Western supermarkets. 

We don't care that much the bill when the food is good. But here we do: YTL 170 (EUR 100 up) for a bellow average dinner is not acceptable. Wines are good: this restaurant is reputed for displaying the best cellar in Istanbul. Good cocktails also, according to our information. So, go there for a drink; not for food... 

SUNSET GRILL & BAR: Adnan Saygun Cad. Yol sok. No:2, Ulus  
PHONE: (90) 0212 - 287-0357

REFIK (**): Istanbul oldest and best known « meyhane » (=local drinking house), Refik is simple, not to say basic; frequented by locals and tourists alike, not to mention plenty of beautiful girls (usually with their boyfriend...), this is nevertheless the place where we had one of our nicest dinner in town.  

Unless you booked a few days in advance, you certainly won't seat inside. The room is small, and packed like a Tokyo metro station at rushed hours! Chance to get seated outside is thicker: don't claim, as this is where the action go. Guests singing, shouting and laughing are part of the show. Pistachios, nuts and roses street sellers will come to you with their fresh products. It is amazing to see that local clients, replete with dozens of « Mezzes », don't hesitate to buy handfuls of king-size nuts...  

Don't expect a menu. Hurried -though friendly- waiters come to the table with plates of « Mezzes », and you chose from the various options. Grilled fish is wonderful. Lamb is great. Cheese is yummy. And the desserts are so nutty!!! Indeed a wonderful restaurant, where you will leave not more than  YTL 50 till 70 (EUR 30 - 40), including a few glasses of Raki or local beer. 

You will burn your calories visiting the neighbouring « Fish Market », then walking up and down the  beautiful and animated Istiklal Caddesi pedestrianized street.  

A real Istanbul experience! 

REFIK: Asmalimescit Sofyali Sokak, Tunel, 
PHONE (90) 0212 – 243-2834



Copyright First Class Around The World Gilles Malaisé