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Aug 16
Reviews (Eats)
Antiochia: Style and Taste

Antiochia's street style -- by Ansel Mullins
In Istanbul, we’ve noted an inverse relationship between a restaurant’s atmosphere and what’s coming out of the kitchen. In most cases, as furniture design goes slick, as bathrooms get properly lit and ventilated, as the wait staff becomes customer-savvy, the quality of the kitchen inevitably goes down. Presumably, there are those in Istanbul who go out to eat and those who go out to sit in chic restaurants, and never the two shall meet. But just when we thought this theory was watertight, we stumbled upon Antiochia – a small restaurant in Beyoğlu that exudes cool without sacrificing flavor.

From its funky logo to the hipster waiters, Antiochia clearly has a different ambition (and clientele) than most restaurants serving food from Turkey’s southern Hatay region, an area wedged between Syria and the Mediterranean Sea. This place doesn’t have spectacles like lamb flambé on its simple one-page menu, nor is there much haranguing from the waitstaff. A lazy lunch or dinner set to your own pace is quite a relaxing experience and the kitchen is keeping it very real in the Hatay tradition.

Nar ekşili cevizli közbiber, a divine relish of red and green peppers swimming in a pomegranate dressing, was topped with crushed walnuts, adding a crunchy texture to this sweet-and-sour cold starter. Tasting the homemade yogurt with mint proved just how little we knew about what yogurt can be – pleasantly sour, pungent and almost as thick as butter. Muhammara, a thick spread of walnuts, red pepper, spices and pomegranate extract, is a Hatay signature and a fine choice at Antiochia but not our favorite. That award goes to the kekik salatası, an intense meze of green olives, fresh thyme and olive oil. We recommend ordering the mixed meze plate, served with a basket of crisp lavaş chips, which allowed us to sample all seven mezes and save room for the main course.

Like the homemade yogurt – so perfectly yogurty – Antiochia’s main courses are simple, recognizable dishes, set to a higher frequency. Şiş et is a plate of marinated cubes of beef skewered and grilled over a charcoal fire. On any given evening in Beyoğlu, there have got to be thousands of skewers of şiş et coming off the grill, but none are quite as tender and succulent as the version at Antiochia. The minced-meat wrap, an Istanbul street food favorite, with onions and tomatoes is among the best we’ve had in the city.

Antiochia’s central location makes up for its shortcomings in the dessert course. Sugary eggplant preserves alongside ice cream just didn’t satisfy the sweet tooth. Instead, we planned an after dinner stop at Cremeria Milano, a fine gelato spot just up the street on İstiklal Caddesi.

Though some find it a bit expensive for lunch, a dinner for two at Antiochia, without alcohol, costs about $35. In our opinion, that’s good value for such ambiance and food. Finally, a place where style doesn’t come at the expense of what’s coming out of the kitchen.

Address: Minare Sokak 21, Asmalımescit/Beyoğlu
Telephone: 212-292-1100

(photo by Ansel Mullins)

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12 Responses to “ Antiochia: Style and Taste ”
  1. Antiochia is a great find. A friend an I ate there back in March, just by chance, and we were wowed by the mezes. As you say, the kesik salatasi is out of this world. I’m kicking myself for not having been back!

  2. We were in Istanbul last week, and liked this place so much we went back a couple of days later for a second visit. It’s simple stuff, but everything was top quality – and friendly too. We loved the candied green walnut and aubergine for dessert as well…

  3. It was so good. I went there a year ago and I was rifling through my pictures and saw pictures of the dinner I had there, meeting with my friends from Japan and my sister from London. What a great place that catered to all palates of the world.
    I’ve been searching for ages to find the name and now I have tracked it down! Glorious. Will try to get a cookbook from the dude’s sister, but not sure it’s in english….does it matter?

  4. Bettina, they have been trying to translate the cookbook into English so hopefully it will be ready soon. Keep checking in with them – we live a half a block away so we eat there regularly and bother them about the translated cookbook 😉

  5. A memorable restaurant, for sure. I’m shocked that the writer missed out on Antiochia’s signature desert – whole walnut (shell and all!) that has been soaked in syrup, atop ice cream. It definitely satisfies the sweet tooth and far outdoes anything one would find in a gelateria.

  6. This is the type of place I’d love to film for my show im trying to develop. If anyone wants to communicate with me about more places through out Turkey let me know.

  7. The food was not as good as we expected, portions were very small and we weren’t satisfied … staff was unfriendly and grim there were no kunefe (which is most popular traditional desert of antakya) ! They even waited for us to leave the restaurant after we finished the meals while we were still drinking… the night was really disappointing we don’t highly recommend this place for having pleasure times with friends

  8. Sorry to hear that. We’ve never had a similar experience there, but we’ll try to get back there to check things out and make sure it hasn’t slipped.

  9. We had the durum and the candied eggplant/walnut: unfortunately for Antiochia it was competing for our tongues’ allegiances versus Durumzade and Ciya. Verdict: Antiochia isn’t as good. The durum at Antiochia had too much of a “salsa” flavor, an overreliance on tomatoes, which were watery and covered up the flavor of the lavash. Durumzade’s durum relies much more on the outstanding flavor of the meat and bread, rightly leaving the onion/tomato/relish to be the garnish. And Antiochia’s candied walnut/eggplant are (in our opinion) a pale imitation of the art perfected at Ciya.

    Service was poor, the three waiters seemed more interested in whatever discussion they were having than getting us our check — and the place was mostly empty.

  10. We went to antiochia 2 nights ago, and we were very pleased
    we went, we almost weren’t going to go because of the last 2
    negative reviews. So I’m basically writing this just to help
    those people deciding, I feel that it is definitely a place
    not to be missed. The food was excelent, and considering that
    the place was packed the service was very good. Even though
    we had been warned to skip on the desert we were too curious
    and gave it a shot anyway, it was Okkkk but nothing to write
    home about. Yesterday we went to meze by lemon tree, just
    round the corner, which in my opinion gives antiochia a run
    for its money. Even though a meal can come quite expensive,
    the daily original mezes and the deserts alone will blow you
    away. Any suggestions for our last night? Someone we met
    suggested eleos (no clue how to spell it) in front of
    giolliti in istikal cadessi. Thanks for this blog it
    definitely made our trip extra special.

2 Trackback(s)
  1. Aug 22, 2009 : Kamil Pasha » Antiochia
  2. Oct 17, 2013 : Adventures in Turkey - What's On My Plate
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