To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen talking about Elvis, there may be pretenders, there may be contenders but there can only be one Kebab King.
Kebapçı Iskender in Beşiktaş is the original Bursa Iskender, or, at least, it belongs to the chain that sprang from the first 1850’s one. Or, at the very least, it is part of the chain that claims to be the original. I’m not convinced anyone can actually prove ownership of something now so ubiquitous, but the important thing is how good it tastes and that can easily be proved with a trip up the hill in Beşiktaş (Ihlamur, Yıldız Yolu No: 6).
Devotees of the philosophy of if you can do one thing well, stick with it, the menu is only there to show prices. You can either have a porsion or a one and a half portion of Iskender kebab which is slices of döner meat served on cubes of pide bread with yoghurt and tomato sauce. The really authentic part comes when it’s brought to your table where frothy, melted butter is poured over the top.
Interestingly there is a vegetarian option with more of the tomato element of the original meat based kebab but bulked out with peppers. I have no idea how they made it so rich and more tomato-ey than any feeble salad dwelling tomato I have ever tasted. It had to have been the butter. The kind of food I wanted to eat as slowly as possible so it wouldn’t finish, I could have ordered it again as soon as the waiter was clearing the table.
Although there was the sticky cake like Kemalpaşa dessert which is, generally speaking, not bad as Turkish desserts go, I couldn’t bring myself to taint the memory of the meal and was reliving it for days afterwards.
Prices that seemed steep whilst ordering were happily paid whilst basking in the afterglow of great kebab.