There are good ways to get all the way out to Hidiv Kasrı near Kanlıca and then there’s the wrong way. Don’t get on a bus from Üsküdar going in the general direction of Beykoz, get off in Kavacık and walk for 40 minutes, following signs for Hıdiv Kasrı.
Instead, once you’ve successfully navigated yourself to Kanlıca (by ferry or bus), a 15 minute walk uphill or a short taxi ride takes you to a beautiful Art Nouveau house and gardens with a panoramic view looking back at the European side (Hıdiv Yolu, 32, Cubuklu – Beykoz.)
At weekends you can brunch with the open buffet between 9 and 1, entertained by unsmiling brides enduring their wedding photos in the grounds. The rest of the week, the marble pillars, fountains and chandeliers elegantly host fairly standard fare in the cafe and a very interesting, Ottoman inspired restaurant menu.
There were so many dishes that I either have just never heard of before, or were so strangely translated into English that I was none the wiser. Staying away from Beef Baked on Soot and Lamb Hub with Mashed Cıntemanı and Cornelian Cherry Sauce I went for Leek Balls followed by Pasha with Beaten [chick] Pea, Pistachio and Mushroom.
The starter, although presented nicely had too sharp a taste but the main dish was rich and had plenty of well cooked lamb chunks, tomato and onion on a base of chick pea puree. Perhaps they were a little heavy handed with the pistachio, or maybe tahini, and tinned mushrooms is unforgiveable but, overall I was intrigued by the food.
Not all the dessert options were available but, on the waiter’s recommendation, I was pleasantly surprised by the Vişne Ekmek Kadayif (cherry soaked bread dessert with clotted cream) as it was much better than the normal version, albeit very sweet.
The opulent surroundings were not reflected in the price as the building is local government run. Which might also explain the odd service. The same waiters that practised maximum eye avoidance in the café were devoted in their attentions in the restaurant. This is definitely a place to try more than once to really make up your mind.