Category Archives: 3 stars

Çukurkeyif Bahçe

3 1/2 ***

**This restaurant is no longer there**

For the last couple of months, Çukurkeyif Bahçe has been Çukurcuma’s best kept secret.  Now word of mouth has started to reach the newspapers and it won’t only be frequented by those lucky enough to have heard the whisper from someone who knows someone who’s been.  Continue reading



3 ***

Amongst the trendy bars, boisterous meyhanes and ‘in’ places to eat in Asmalı Mescit, Helvetia is an unassuming, almost unmarked, place that beckons you in with a warm hug rather than a ‘Daahling! Mwah, mwah’. Continue reading

Meşhur Adıyaman Ciğ Köftecisi

3 ***

Çiğ köfte, one of the spiciest Turkish foods, means ‘raw meatballs’ and is usually prepared with the leanest meat, bulghur, tomato paste and spices and kneaded for hours to get the right consistency.  On my hunt for heat in Istanbul I found Adıyaman Ciğ Köftecisi a place that not only specializes in the dish but makes it without meat (et siz).

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Garden Cafe – Winter hangout

3 ***

To find this place you must have been inducted by someone else who has, in turn, been brought by another insider. Tucked away between apartment buildings just behind Mecidiyeköy’s noisy crossroads, Garden Cafe takes its theme seriously. Plastic frogs croak and stuffed cats miaow as you open the bamboo door, a fake tree forms the centre of the bar area and plants and butterflies abound. It manages to err just on the right side of kitsch and the covered winter garden is so well heated and protected from the elements it doesn’t matter if the weather prevents you from sitting outside.

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Konyalılar Etli Ekmek

3 ***

The description I had to go on from the people that recommended this lokanta to me was “thin bread with meat”. Er…so it’s döner kebab then?  Or pide?  My excitement managed to contain itself even when I found that Turkish food critics heap praise on it and I set out sceptically.  How different could it be? Continue reading

Sarıyer Börek

3 ***

Börek, you can eat it almost everywhere and it’s always amazing – a greasy, salty, pastry indulgence that fills you up until dinner time. Not something to travel for you might think, especially not all the way out to Sarıyer.  But Akbil full, stomach empty I took the bus from Taksim along the Bosphorous. Continue reading

Zencefil – A vegetarian oasis

I’m not a vegetarian but I do often act like one so I’m almost as appreciative of a vegetarian restaurant as a real meat avoider.  I very rarely cook meat at home and go for weeks without really noticing I haven’t had any.  Despite Turkish food being a very meat orientated cuisine, I don’t think vegetarians do too badly on the whole as mezes are largely vegetable based and often don’t leave room for a main course. That might be why Zencefil doesn’t try as hard as it could. Continue reading