For a city that has so many places to eat from street sellers to lokantas to high class restaurants, there was surprisingly little in the way of guides in 2007. OK, there were a couple that feature food reviews, but, let’s just say I started the blog because I refused to take the time out** to wade through their editorial heavy, up their own backsides, substance-less magazine to get to the restaurant section.
It’s fairly hard to get a bad meal in Turkey if you stick to Turkish food and often the more unimpressive the location, the more simple and satisfying the food. The international scene is where the pitfalls lurk. Maybe you can’t blame the Turks for thinking their food is so good there is so need to eat anyone else’s, but to the foreigner there are only so many dolma (stuffed somethings) variations you can try before eventually craving the more exotic.
In starting the blog I promised to go to as many restaurants as my waistline allowed, to ALWAYS sample the desserts and to warn you if the toilets are scary. I’m not a drinker so wine enthusiasts may feel the gap in my reviews unless I dined with someone who drank. My star system goes from 6 stars as the highest down to 0 and represents the following:
6 stars : Excellent, I was still thinking about the taste of my meal the following day – for the right reasons.
5 stars : Very good, I’d go back like a shot.
4 stars : Good, I’d go back in a couple of months.
3 stars : Fairly good, I’d go back if someone I was with wanted to.
2 stars : OK, but I wouldn’t go back.
1 star : Go if the only other option is starvation.
0 stars : Stay away!
**By December 22, 2007, some of my original fiery contempt for certain Istanbul publications had been muted by a change of editor. Oh, and the teeny fact I’d started writing for them. Some scruples are shortlived when faced with the opportunity of an actual readership and first ever byline.
However, from a 2013 viewpoint I bring back my dismissive regard for Time Out Istanbul. They pretty much stopped using local expat writers and just translated the limp reviews from the Turkish version which were written with no indication the reviewer had eaten the food and were often favours for advertising or people owners known to the magazine owners.