Discover new flavors

ARDA SAYINER @ardasayiner
Published 29.04.2016 23:33
Updated 29.04.2016 23:37
Discover new flavors

Nişantaşı, as an indispensable part of Istanbul's urban life, has been a ritzy district since the early years of Turkey, with outstanding cafes, restaurants and elite customers. This week, we look at elegant places to have a delicious meal followed by a coffee break in the area

Istanbul always has new venues to discover. From Turkish to Indian cuisine there are hundreds of new options. The first stop I recommend that you discover this week is Grey. This restaurant, which is one of the most popular restaurants in the Topağacı district, took me back to the days when I used to work for the BBC in London. It is as if you are on the set of "The Great Gatsby" with Leonardo Di Caprio. Complete with brass chandeliers, checker marble floor tiles, 78 flower pots hung on the wall and a pleasant crowd. On the tables there are again brass candle holders and napkin holders, and glasses from the Nude Glass series Paşabahce, produced especially for Grey. Coffee is offered on silver trays. It is all very chic. The outdoor area is its most pleasant area. There is a bar and a DJ booth inside. There is also an elegant showcase. You may prefer the chic area inside with white tablecloths if you are into more serious topics. The restaurant, opened by successful businessman Tayfun Topal, will make you feel like you are in London. Nişantaşı really needs a place like this. The general coordinator, Gürsel Avcı, and manager, Hüseyin Genç, are as hospitable as the service staff.

If we are to talk about Grey's dishes, its menu is quite rich. My suggestion for a pre-dinner drink is to try their signature cocktail, the Mr. Grey. Or, you can ask for more signature drinks from Grey's head bartender Emrah Durmaz. Moving on to food, the octopus carpaccio and salmon tartar are pretty delicious as starters. From the main dishes you should try the lamb külbastı (grill), the eggplant puree under it is especially marvelous. Likewise, the seafood spaghetti is pretty good for people who do not want red meat. Macaroni with fresh beans is a unique alternative for vegetarians. Another main dish I liked was cotolleta alla Milanese, which is lamb prepared Milan style.

But if you were to ask my most favorite dish at Grey, I would have to say it is the risotto with mushrooms and cream. Risotto can be hard if it is not cooked enough and mushy if it is cooked too much, and is difficult to get the right consistency. I give 10 points to Grey for this. For dessert, the volcano souffle is a must. But I think the most unique dessert is the bitter chocolate with 80 percent cocoa. The presentation is marvelous; you break the chocolate served as a giant tablet on an old tree stump yourself with a nail. Chocolate lovers will certainly appreciate it. I congratulate Topal who has thought of every detail, as well as his team. Visit it the first chance you get.

As we all know, Nişantaşı is also famous for its cafes. Out of these, the place I want to tell you about it MEG Cafe. It is operated by the outstanding, beautiful, intimate and warm Merve Güleç. A Koç University graduate, Merve opened the cafe having a dream of entrepreneurship, and it is quite successful. She welcomes guests with her blue eyes and smiling face together with her staff. You can try the coffee and desert selections and the menu changes daily. There are also healthy dishes that can be eaten fast. The olive oil dishes are especially very delicious. Out of the cookies, the honey and molasses ones are wonderful. The one with cheese curd is very creative. I loved it. But the most creative treat is the cookie called Cookie Shot. You eat the cookie in the shape of a shot glass by pouring warm milk in it with real pleasure. I congratulate Güleç, who added a different perspective to her international business education by a getting culinary education at MSA, and for her courage and what she did. I believe you will spend enjoyable time at the small tables at the front of the cafe.

I want to tell you about a humble, fast food type of place, again in Nişantaşı. Its name is Lezzet Co. Its döner is very famous. Everything is made from ingredients gathered from all over Anatolia. According to what Cem Bursalı, its manager says, the rice used in the pilav on the side of the döner comes from Samsun, the pickles come from Ankara and the water buffalo yoghurt comes from a very special farm. I loved the ayran with pickle brine in it. It is spicy hot. Superb. The döner is already sliced very thin and is cooked on pieces of oak in a stone oven. Mixed spices come in a glass bottle for you to put on the döner. French fries are fried in curls and without any oil. I really loved it, and their baklava with hazelnut most of all. It is open every day between 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. Lezzet Co brings traditional döner together with modern architecture. I congratulate them. I recommend you stop by the first chance you get. Enjoy it.

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