FridayFiled under Reviews (Eats)
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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2 responses - Posted 11.18.13
Around the time that hamsi, our favorite little fish, appear in the markets of Istanbul in late fall we become restless for the Black Sea-style cooking we’ve been missing since the previous season. Hamsi (fresh anchovies) are not the only thing to eat in a Black Sea restaurant, but eating ...continue
no responses - Posted 08.20.13
More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone – brings together what we love most about this city: thriving street life, hard-to-grasp commercial enterprises, remnants of history and, of course, excellent hidden spots to eat. A chickpea and pilaf cart is pushed past ...continue
1 response - Posted 07.22.13
On a night out in Istanbul, we often find ourselves forced to make sacrifices in one or more categories of the overall dining experience. Great food at reasonable prices will surely be laid out in a room decorated in Anatolian kitsch. Bosphorus views and contemporary furnishings are a license to ...continue
2 responses - Posted 07.15.13
One of the great joys of spring and summertime in Istanbul is the chance to get away for a day to one of the Princes’ Islands, the car-free and forested archipelago that is a short ferry ride away from the city. The only downside to an island hop is actually ...continue
1 response - Posted 04.15.13
In an opinion piece published recently in the Latitude blog of The New York Times, veteran Turkey correspondent Andrew Finkel’s brutally honest appraisal of the state of “New Turkish Cuisine” called much of Istanbul’s restaurant establishment – down to the customers – into question. We’ve had similar misgivings after meals ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.09.13
Editor’s note: This post was written by “Meliz,” an intrepid explorer of Istanbul’s culinary backstreets and frequent Istanbul Eats guest contributor who would like to keep her anonymity. While the Princes’ Islands make for a great escape from the city, it used to be hard to think of them as a ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.18.13
It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, but a low-register, guttural moan of pleasure was detected from our table when we tasted the shredded celery root in yogurt, a house specialty meze at Çukur Meyhane. And we weren’t faking ...continue
1 response - Posted 01.14.13
We are unabashedly fanatical in our love of hamsi, or anchovies, a late fall/wintertime specialty whose arrival we eagerly await each year in Istanbul, where the tiny fish are most commonly served pan-fried, grilled or in pilaf. But as any hamsi aficionado knows, for the best anchovy-eating in Turkey one ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.07.13
Dear Istanbul Eats, I’ll have an eight-hour layover in Istanbul and was wondering if you have any suggestions for places to go for a good Turkish breakfast and lunch. I love to eat at small, local places serving authentic food. I would prefer restaurants in the Yeşilköy area, as I have ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.04.13
The fatty torik – the Turkish name for a large, mature Atlantic bonito, similar to the little tunny – courses the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for just a short period each year in November and December. Yet the people of Istanbul eat it year-round by preserving the ...continue