Monthly Archives: October 2013

Otantik – How it’s done in Anatolia

4 ****

For some reason I’ve managed never to notice Otantik, despite it’s prominent Istiklal position (no. 170) and unsubtle decor.  Water features and faux foliage abound but, although I am sure a more ambience discerning customer would find it tacky, I thought it was charming.  Even the woman sitting fully costumed by her gözleme (Turkish pancake) stone was fine by me – it means hot, fresh gözleme whatever cool points it loses.  But, I had been away for a few weeks so maybe my Istanbul snobbery gauge needed resetting. Continue reading


Behind the meyhane

Mahzen was somewhere I went just after I moved to Cihangir with one of my favourite people in Istanbul. A newspaper journalist for Hurriyet who had been a student. She was still a student sort of but she was cancelling more  lessons than she was taking and then soon after we went for this dinner, she took extreme offence that I said she would need to pay for cancellations. Continue reading

Meyhanes – Mahzen, Çiçek Pasajı

4 ****

Imagine your living room but packed with people clapping along to folk music, tray after tray of food being brought to your table and an endless supply of raki. The essence of a good meyhane is making the diner feel totally at home but with the atmosphere cranked up to full power. Continue reading

Behind Çin Büfe, Changa, House Cafe and Taj Mahal

A Chinese, an Indian and a couple of fancier Turkish fusion places (here and here) – this was the beginning of my expat life as opposed to my Turkish girlfriend life. Continue reading

The House Cafe – An Empire


You could build an entire Saturday around The House Café’s Istanbul Empire. Walk along the Bosphorus from Beşiktaş to avoid the traffic and work up an appetite for breakfast or brunch at the Ortaköy waterfront restaurant; spend the afternoon and all your cash in Nişantaşı and drink lemonade in the original Teşkvikiye garden café; do the Sunday promenade along İstiklal, stopping off for coffee at the latest House Café, on your way to the Tünel café for dinner. Continue reading

Taj Mahal – A warning

I’ll preface this by saying I’m not completely sure this restaurant still exists or that the one that turns up in Google is the same one. Anyway, I always loved this review. The bad ones are the most fun to write. Continue reading

Çin Büfe – Sweet or sour?

2 **

Once someone suggests going for a Chinese, the idea takes hold and won’t let go until you seek out a place where chopsticks come with dinner.  Usually, in my experiences of living abroad in countries with a low Asian population, the chopsticks are about the most authentic thing about the food. Continue reading