Şenol Erol is trying to remain optimistic about running the last esnaf lokantası in Sultanahmet, where the market seems to demand tourist traps over traditional tradesmen’s restaurants. “I guess that makes us unique, doing things the old way,” he says, as if this vintage eatery needed a tagline.
Our first meal at his eponymous restaurant felt as if it could have been our five-hundredth, so familiar was the worn but carefully preserved interior with its brown, brushed aluminum window frames, dented stainless coolers grumbling along well past their prime, tired but friendly white-haired and jacketed waiter and framed posters of the verdant hills of the Erol family homeland, the eastern Black Sea.
But it’s not just the look of this place that makes it stand out among its neighbors, most notably the Cheers Café Bar and the Bistro across the street. “We make the food fresh every morning, from scratch. Not everyone does that around here,” Erol says. It’s one thing to hand pat a cooler full of köfte every morning, but it is another thing entirely to prepare a seasonal menu with range and variety.
Read the rest of the review at Culinary Backstreets .