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Nov 29
Friday
Reviews (Eats)
İstiridye Balık Lokantası: The Business of Lunch

These days, writing about Istanbul’s old-school restaurants can be heartbreaking work. No sooner do we find out about a classic lunch spot than it turns out the place is about to be closed down to make way for yet another development project. Meanwhile, Istanbul’s relentless drive to modernize and “clean up” its streets has meant there is less and less room for traditional food vendors to operate. We weren’t surprised to learn that one of our favorite street food sellers, the bespectacled man who provided freshly peeled cucumbers by the Galata Tower, recently gave up his iconic perch after being relentlessly squeezed by the municipal authorities.

We were fully prepared, then, to be heartbroken yet again when we found İstiridye Balık Lokantası, a venerable fish restaurant, no longer at its decades-old location on Mumhane Caddesi, a street in the waterfront Karaköy area that has so many good restaurants along it that it acts as a kind of a culinary vortex, radiating a magnetic pull that we find hard to resist.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm. Rather than closed, the 80-year-old İstiridye had simply moved down the street. While the new space is smaller and brighter, lacking the clubby aura that the previous dark-wood-paneled location exuded, the dedicated clientele remains the same: a lunchtime crowd of local office workers and executives with exacting tastes. Karaköy, once a busy port area, remains a mostly commercial zone (though one that’s increasingly home to new galleries and hip cafes), with elegant buildings housing shipping and holding companies. The people who come to İstiridye expect the restaurant to serve food whose quality is consistent, because, it would appear, many of them seem to come here every day.

Read the rest of the review on Culinary Backstreets. The original review was published March 8, 2010, and has been updated.

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