I had the opportunity this week to visit the Istanbul branch of the famous Turkish restaurant in London, Sofra London, which opened in Karaköy. Of course, the real opportunity there was to meet the legendary founder of the brand, Hüseyin Özer. Defining himself as a "restaurateur," Özer is a nutritionist as well. Beyond being an entrepreneur, he is a creative individual and a visionary artist. He said his purpose is not to make money but to support education while teaching how to make quality Turkish food and how to operate a restaurant. As a British-Turk, Özer's story, which reaches from Tokat to London, is just like a movie. So, imagine my elation as I sat down with him to listen to his story and to learn the inside secrets of his recipes.
The design of the restaurant is definitely English. The ambiance is dominated by the wooden upholstery, shiny wallpapers, chandeliers and chic napkins. The garden area in the backyard of the restaurant is humbler. Serving Turkish cuisine in an English way is the restaurant's main feature. In other words, the decoration is Western while the menu is Eastern. My favorite dish was the cod fish. Marinated in a special sauce, the fish almost melted in my mouth. Yet, grilled sea bass was just as delicious. I have never seen bass in my life that was as thinly and perfectly sliced as well as grilled this well. As for the mezzes, the salad with nuts and hummus with roasted meat are great. In case you want to try out all promising mezzes, I suggest you order a sample plate with nine different tastes. In addition, you should definitely try out the Cappadocia pilaf, which has various pulses in it. For desert, the apricot desert is a distinctive taste. Prepared without sugar, the apricot desert and the Turkish pudding with berries are among the most original tastes on the menu.
Additionally, the place includes two different bars. Presenting live DJ performances soon, you may stop by the restaurant just for colorful cocktails as well. Sofra London might seem out of place in the slovenly spirit of Karaköy at first glance. However, one must remember that regions like Soho and Camden Town also have their own luxury restaurants, and Sofra London is the most successful example of this segment in Karaköy. It is luxurious, but it still represents a particular culture: Elegant yet with a peculiar identity, attitude and extraordinary nature that distinguishes it from other fine dining restaurants in the city. This unique concept along with the points that unite English and Turkish culture make Sofra London a good fit for Karaköy, especially since it needed such a fine dining restaurant after Rudolf. I suggest you check out this restaurant, for which local and foreigner customers queue up in London, as soon as you can.
Airport hotels are indispensable for people who travel often. These hotels are generally lifesavers, especially for those who miss their flights or experience long delays. The TAV Airport Hotel, which opened in 2004 at the International Terminal of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, and the TAV Airport Hotel İzmir, which was opened in 2014 at the İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport by BTA, are suitable for travelers experiencing both hard times as well as leisure time. The very first and the biggest airport hotel in Turkey, the TAV Airport Hotel Istanbul, was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the famous travel site TripAdvisor in 2012 and 2013. From non-smoking rooms to the rooms for the physically disabled, suites and linked family rooms, the 128 room-capacity hotel was designed by taking different clients' needs into account. It also provides free, 24-hour shuttle service to the airport's domestic and international terminals. Also, unique tastes are available at the Sky Restaurant on the ground floor. Dining across the apron is an especially pleasant experience. The white jacketed staff make you feel as if you are in one of the fine dining restaurants of the city rather than an airport restaurant. To this day, the hotel has welcomed celebrities such as the Pussy Cat Dolls, actor Kevin Costner, legendary soccer player Diego Maradona and Ghanaian King Mama Odi Bah Grogo. A second branch of the TAV Airport Hotel operates in İzmir. The hotel is just an hour away from Çeşme and Kuşadası, while guests can travel to the city center in only 25 minutes. I recommend trying out the TAV Airport Hotels at the first opportunity, especially if you are in need of overnight accommodation while waiting for a flight. I congratulate the BTA CEO Saadettin Cesur for the company's excellent investments and operations.
The languages of luggage
Speaking of travel, the other indispensable item for long journeys is good-quality suitcases. I am quite picky in this matter; every suitcase has a different style and language, especially since I believe they reflect our personality. My Tommy Hilfiger card case, which I have been using for five years, could not stand the stress anymore and cracked during my last return from Cuba. Everyone knows about the attitude of baggage handlers towards suitcases! Therefore, endurance is as important as functionality and design.
In this respect, Rimova recently caught my eye. Gökyüzü Havacılık (Sky Air Company) introduced the brand to Turkey seven years ago. Produced in Germany since 1898, Rimova purses and suitcases are the advanced products of craftsmanship, and the designs are simple and elegant. Made from special polycarbonate and aluminum, they are extremely resistant - up to 350 kilogram impacts as well as hot and cold weather - and this is very important for me. I have begun to see Turkish celebrities using these suitcases at airports, just like many other celebrities around the world, such as Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore, famous model Alessandra Ambrosio and Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actor, singer and songwriter Jared Leto. I suggest you check out Rimova's products, a company that produces custom suitcases for well-known brands like Porsche and Moncler, especially if you travel frequently and demand elegance with endurance.
Top 3 restaurants of the week
Pizza East / Akaretler
Kabuk / Yalıkavak, Bodrum
Hayat / Cihangir
Top 3 venues of the week
Mellow / Cihangir
Vault / Karaköy
Sihirli Spatula / Acıbadem
Top 3 hotels of the week
Palazzo Donizetti Hotel / Beyoğlu
Golden Savoy / Bodrum
AC Hotel / Maçka
Top 3 people to follow this week
Dr. Hakan Karalök / Yale University
Hüseyin Gazi Coşan / Deputy Director of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul