Category: Istanbul

I have decided to go to Istanbul for few days, for business and lots of pleasure. You know I keep telling you about my favorite hotel in the city, Radisson Blu in Ortakoy.

This time they have disappointed me as the usual people had left the hotel. It is still very well located, but it lost all its charm, as I don’t feel home as I used to.

So when I returned from my hometown Mersin to Istanbul, I have decided to try a new hotel, my moms favorite, House Hotel in Nisantasi.

Nisantasi is the most exclusive district for shopping, fashion, and entertainment… You can compare it to Madisson avenue in NY. House hotel is located between Prada and Prada and just few steps of Beymen (Turkey’s Bergdorf Goodman).

This luxury design boutique hotel has around 40 rooms, and an impeccable service. Its prices depend on the season, but it is worth every penny you pay for it. And to top that, don’t know if it is the quality of the eggs or the Hollandaise sauce that has an extra lemony taste… it has the best “Eggs Benedicts”.

And God knows how much I like that dish and have tried all around the world.

I think my mom is right, this hotel is really a great discovery, and you quickly start feeling at home… a luxurious home ;)

I met a friend for lunch at “Masa” restaurant which is in “Istinye Park” (one of the newest and most beautiful mall in Istanbul) where I had a beef salad…. Under the heat you cannot eat anything else believe me. Masa is one of the happening spots for lunch since it opened. Off course when I went, due to the heat and people on vacation, it wasn’t that busy. The fun part of it ? Even in winter people sit at the terrace with the heaters so they can smoke and enjoy lunch :)

You don’t go to Turkey and not see a fortune teller. It is one of the most fun rituals, normally they read the coffee cup, but this time I went to see a lady who reads on tea leaves.

Once my lunch done, I went to see the fortune teller, who off course told me that I will get married soon. Damn if they were all right, I would be married at least 10 times, and have a dozen of kids by now… I was more worried about my present than my future. Her house was so hot that I was afraid to pass out and not be able to go to my next big appointment: “Zuma” for drinks and dinner !!!

“Zuma” is a restaurant where they serve contemporary Japanese cuisine. It has several locations in the world such as London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Miami and Istanbul… And as all the locations it is great for happy hour, and happens to be located adjacent to my hotel’s restaurant in Ortakoy (I am sure by now you understand why I always stay at Radisson Hotel)

After the Istanbul traffic, we were really happy to sit by the Bosphorus and enjoy our drinks. When we finally hit the table, we ordered some sushis and few other things. The service was great except the French speaking girl who was placing people. You know the kind who are paid to be unpleasant, who believes that because they hold the reservation book, they rule the world??? Thanks god, the waiting staff was lovely so we forgot her until we left where she didn’t even say good night. They should seriously send her to a smiling school…

The crowd was a mixture of Istanbul socialists and tourists, the food was good but honestly I don’t really get the fuzz about this restaurant. Especially when I saw the bill we received… I agree that it is a hip place and sushis are expensive, but unless you put gold on them, I don’t see any reason to pay 500 USD for five maki sushi, literally two meat skewers, five shrimps tempura and a bottle of rose….

So beside the welcoming stuff, and the price… yes it is well located, and has a good crowd. But personally I prefer to go to fish restaurant and enjoy my food and the service and not feel that I have been ripped of. Anyway my company was great again, and we continued our night in Beyoglu, at 45’lik.

“45’lik” is a bar in Beyoglu that exist for the last 15 years. It became famous with the movie “Issiz Adam” which portrays the life of those whose lives have been isolated by modern lifestyles. It is also filled with food, mothers, old songs, and love. All Turkey cried over the impossible love of the two main characters that used to meet at the 45’lik bar and listened to the old Turkish songs. This bar is still full of people who just go for the pleasure of listening old Turkish songs and have a great walk on memory lane. I remembered my childhood, and sang so loud that lost my voice :)

It is my discovery of this trip and a perfect way to finish another glorious day in Istanbul…

Whenever I come to Istanbul I stay at “Radisson Blu Hotel” in Ortakoy. All my friends know that it is my second house. I like it because the rooms are fine and Ortakoy, where it is located, is the center of lots of summer bars, restaurants and cafes. “House Café” which is literally few steps away from my hotel’s entrance is one of the nice hangouts. Imagine a restaurant by the sea, where there is always a nice wind, with great cocktails, and very tasty international cuisine. Their only problem is service; the stuff is lovely but not very capable. I guess they hire young students who don’t have any idea about restaurant business. Don’t worry after an afternoon serving me, either they quit or they become professionals ;) )))
So when I woke up on Sunday, I was dreaming of their eggs benedicts. Finally ended up taking a bottle of rose and share a pizza. Once again they proved my theory, food excellent, and the service poor. The crowd well this is Turkey, so while a tourist is sitting on one side, some locals enjoying their lunch on the other, you could easily see a woman with her head covered having tea with her husband, sitting next to the table of the girl who has a mini, or I might say micro shorts sipping her chilled rose.
So I guess it shows very well what Turkey is about; a combination between Europe and Asia ….

That night we decided to go to my favorite Kebab Restaurant called “Venge”. Normally the restaurant is in 4. Levent area, but this summer they decided to rent a spot at Sortie as well. Very good idea because with the heat wave in Istanbul right now, the bosphorus air is always a blessing.
I would have thought it would be empty, but I was wrong. The crowd was composed of some French tourist that I believe the hotel sent some locals, some locals with non Turkish guests and us…
The system is simple, when you sit to your table, they bring you warm pide bread with cheese, and a lahmacun (mini Turkish pizza w ground beef and spices), and then the mezze plate comes where you chose your Turkish tapas to accompany your meat.

Once the mezzes on your table, your Raki (Pastis) chilled with ice you can start thinking about your main dishes… Venge is famous for their Doner Kebap (Turkish döner kebap, literally “turning roast”), is dish made of meat cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order. Unfortunately they didn’t have any, so we decided to take lamb chops and minced meat, no need to say delicious.
And finish dinner with their famous deserts to share, Irmik helva (Semolina helva) with vanilla ice cream inside, and Peynirli Künefe which is a sweet shredded pastry with cheese…. Well no need to say that these deserts are very light… I am sure if we follow eight watchers, we will get minus points with them ;)

Although the weather was too warm and humid it was a great night, I mean how you can not enjoy it…. Great food, great view, great company and amazing music….