This is a bit of a mystery as I can’t find out from Google if the restaurant is still there or not. Worth a look anyway, there has to be something in its place as there are no empty corners near busy mosques in Istanbul. I didn’t remember the experience until I got to the chicken soup part…then it came back to me.
Sometimes I eat out just because I’m hungry, not for the dining out experience, nor to find a new place, not even with the thought of passing judgement in a review. Yesterday, having missed lunch, I went for the ultimate lazy meal on the way home at the cafe under my flat. And stumbled across gold.
Açıkdeniz Cafe is the little family run place underneath my flat, unassumingly tucked away behind Firuzağa mosque (the big green one in Cihangir that everyone sits outside, Palaska Sokak). There is another cafe much more obviously feeding and watering the masses in front of the mosque, but, squeeze through the tables and down a couple of steps and you’ll find a cosy, slightly Mediterranean, Mom’s kitchen terraced cafe.
The menu has various versions of the classic Turkish breakfast, toasties, omelettes and a selection of meze style dishes plus daily specials in lunch or snack size portions The lentil köfte was the weakest one, they used bulghur rice (purist alert) rather than the fine köfte bulghur which gave it a strange texture and, personally, I think I make it better myself. But the baked pasta and sigara börek were light and not too greasy.
The wow factor was that day’s soup – chicken. Just soup, not normally anything to blog about, but, in the words of Tony the Tiger, this was GRRRREAT . So full of flavour I think the chicken might have been roasted first and I was inordinately excited at being given a side dish of brown and white bread croutons to sprinkle on top. A very European touch that I’ve not come across anywhere here before. The musical accompaniments were almost as good as the food, Cranberries, Johnny Cash, 80s…
The only disappointment is there are no desserts on the menu, especially since the place feels like somewhere that would do a fantastic apple pie and cheesecake.