Who would expect that a restaurant located in an office building would create the buzz that has surrounded Vogue for years? The success of this restaurant owes to a high-quality international menu that relies heavily on Mediterranean and international cuisine, plus an amazing and ample sushi bar that predates Istanbullus growing craze for Japanese food. Floor to ceiling windows provide panoramic views as far as Maiden’s Tower (and including the monuments of the Historic Peninsula), while in summer, an outdoor terrace gets graceful sea breezes.
At Vogue Restaurant, meals, served in a chic and minimalist atmosphere accompanied by the paintings of well known Turkish contemporary artists, are a feast for the eyes.
An Istanbul classic for 14 years and a favorite of Turkish and foreign guests, Vogue Restaurant has been named by Zagat Survey as one of the best restaurants in the world.
Located near the Abdi Ipekci Street and inside the corner of the Reasurans Passage, Zazie offers an atmosphere radically different from the general “high-heeled, Madison Avenue” aura of the Abdi Ipekci itself. Owned a popular Turkish actor Cemal Hunal, who has recently won fame with Turkish director Cagan Irmak’s movie called “Issiz Adam” (a.k.a “No Man is an Island” type of movie and character) and his family, Zazie does carry a sniff of snobbish and high-end, casual people’s bar and restaurant. The interior decoration and design, which has been done by Vicki Hunal, matches this aura as well. Everything is of very high quality here. The tomato soup tastes like tomato and mystifies the appetites of the neighbouring tables, the pizzas are impressive, large and delicious, the salad menu is very rich and so are the amount of ingredients used to make them, the wine list is adequate including a list of ‘special’ wines as well. The thin crust pizza, made using famous pizza guru Guagneli Gianluca’s guidance is a must-try. The place is dim-lit, yet cozy; the waiters are friendly, but also a bit amateurish -service could get frustrating at times of extreme crowd. The place carries the essence of a ‘friend’s’ place.
As the name implies, this restaurant offers a stunning 360 degree view of the city. Although quiet at lunch, it transforms into a sophisticated and trendy nightspot. The fare is more or less international, with a range of exotic dishes. Try dishes like Prawns in a Jar with Lemon Grass, or the Bollywood Chicken. Stick to Turkish cuisine or go in for some sushi, but definitely order something from the imported wine list. The DJ and the live music keep you on your feet—the atmosphere gets more vibrant as the night progresses.
Kanaat Restaurant is one of the oldest diners in Istanbul, serving traditional Turkish / Ottoman cuisine samples. Given that there are few other points of interest in Üsküdar and around this restaurant, you normally wouldn’t make a special trip to come and dine here unless you happen to be on this side of town for business or special sightseeing -such as visiting a unique mosque, hammam or palace. Nonetheless, it is also said among the locals that “there are only two reasons to go to Üsküdar: 1. to take the ferry 2. for Kanaat Restaurant”. Indeed, locals on the Anatolian side visit this bustling, semi-historic eatery quite often for a quick lunch or an informal dinner and dine on pre-prepared main courses. It must yet be noted that some locals also lament in nostalgia that Kanaat as it is today is incomparable to its original establishment back in 1900s. There are some fairly ambitious and oily dishes such as Elbasan Tava—large chunks of juicy beef with melted local cheddar cheese, farm fresh eggs and a combination of seasonal vegetables-, Stuffed Onions -a specialty of Kanaat, unlikely to be found anywere else-, Özbek Rice -rice cooked together with lamb-chomps and dried onions-, Milk Pudding or Custard with ice-cream, Pumpkin Pie and more. You are advised to carry cash as you arrive, they are unlikely to accept credit cards.
Mimolett is yet a new born baby in the upscale-bohemian neighborhood of Cihangir. Nonetheless, since its opening in Dec. 2009, it has been getting very good attention for the
gourmet population of Istanbul. Mimolett’s owner/chef Murat Bozok describes Mimolett as his one and only dream: a place of his own at home. After years of training and working abroad, Murat Bozok always meant to come back to his home country and find his own place and to earn himself those Michelin rates that he had worked and earned for others abroad. He studied administrative sciences at the Istanbul University here in Istanbul and then took of to the United States to study culinary arts to become a chef. He started working for Gordon Ramsey first at Ramsey’s one and only restaurant with three Michelin Stars. Later on he moved to Paris and started working under Joë Robuchon in L’Atelier. Few years later, he went back and teamed up with Ramsey again, working as sous-chef in Ramsey’s new restaurant Petrus and as head-chef in Devonshire Pub. When he finally moved back into Istanbul, he did what was always on his mind: opened his new place, his little pearl the Mimolett. Mimolett takes after a cheese variety, traditionally produced around the city of Lille, France. Murat Bozok is also trying to produce this cheese variety at the same time as he tries to establish his new restaurant. Check out his personal blog for latest information on both his restaurant and other initiatives, such as making cheese.
Entering this fine place, one walks through a thin and short aisle into an elegant bar accommodating about10-12 people, serving fine apertives. Below the first level are three levels of restaurant section, with only a slight hymn of music and finely covered tables. The interior decor is aesthetically designed. The service is attentive and polite; yet also pretty slow. If you are one of those customers, who wants to be tended for at all times, you will be annoyed at Mimolett. The sommelier service is top of the menu. With over 250 choices of wine, unless you have a pretty good knowledge of wine, do ask for direction from your sommelier. The menu is a refined interpretation of South France, South Italy, Greece and Turkish cuisines and consists of seven / eight startes, eight / ten main courses and five to six desserts. The menu will be changing seasonally to make available seasonal ingredients and delicacies. There are two tasting menus: one of meat and the other of fish based meals. Risotto with aged balsamic vinegar, chestnuts and truffles and ravioli with crayfish, smoked lobster and scallops of the starters are highly recommended. The baked duck with orange sauce served with dough was tremendous, even for someone not into red meat. Keep your radar open for visiting chefs in near future: Robuchon and Ramsey are first on the list.