Pastries dripping with honey, detox salads and table views that will make you swoon. It’s time to book a gourmet getaway in Istanbul…
With slick new restaurants springing up all over the city, Istanbul is well and truly flashing on Europe’s foodie radar. Whether you’re after a taste of traditional Turkey or up-to-the-minute cuisine, this cosmopolitan capital won’t fail to delight your senses.
Where the wild things are
360 Istanbul (www.360istanbul.com) is a great place to eat on your first night. Here, you can throw any preconceptions about Istanbul out of the very high windows and enjoy a fabulous cocktail while you’re at it. Perched on the top of an apartment block, with head-spinning views across the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, it’s the place to come for a trendy bite with a side helping of vertigo. The international menu, written in English and Turkish, will raise a smile with its cheekily named dishes, such as the ‘Miss Piggy Pizza’ and the ‘Love Me Tender Beef Rib’. If you’re more of a fish fan, try the fillet of dorade in vine leaves. It’s melt-in-the-mouth delicious and the boozy raki sauce adds a tasty kick.
Fancy a kebab?
If the mere mention of a kebab triggers messy memories of Friday nights, get yourself to Hamdi Restaurant (www.hamdirestorant.com.tr) for some swift reprogramming. Hamdi make kebabs the way they should be - hot, hearty and full of flavour. The aubergine kebab comes highly recommended and the kebab with pistachios is another big hit. Book a table on the roof terrace and enjoy views of the Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn as you eat.
Seafood in style
It’s no surprise that the Sultanahmet Fish House (http://sultanahmetfishhouse.com) is such a firm favourite with Istanbul’s locals. The food is delicious, the staff are friendly and the atmosphere is warm and cosy. The only thing you’ll find falling short is your bill! What more could you ask for? Sit back and tuck in as the coloured light from the lanterns spills over your table. The tasty mixed fish grill is ideal if you’re feeling indecisive. Or go for the catch of the day cooked the way you like it. Just make sure you leave room for some honey-drenched baklava. It would be rude not to!
More than meze
If you want to sample some of Turkey’s time-honoured greats, make your way to Güney Park Terrace (www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/istanbul) at the Ritz Carlton for a traditional Turkish meze plate. The meze selection includes a little bit of everything and is a great representation of the country’s finest foods and flavours; plump, juicy olives, tangy kashar cheese, delicious dolma… the list goes on! Finish up with the traditional Turkish dessert plate and declare yourself an expert in Turkish cuisine!
Detox of delights
If all that meat and meze has taken the shine from your halo, don’t despair: just go to Saf (www.thelifeco.com/centers-c.asp) and polish it back up. Saf – Turkish for pure – serves convincingly tasty vegetarian cuisine with a splash of science. The organic ingredients are served raw or prepared at low temperatures so the shiny healthy enzymes don’t fry. There’s even a four-course weight loss menu. Take a bite of your courgette flower dolma and feel the nutrients whizz around your body!
Where to stay
Sultanhan Hotel - a new boutique hotel with lashings of charm, Ottoman-style fabrics and antique furniture. Doubles from €230.
Hotel Spina Istanbul - a converted 19th-century house with a beautiful wooden exterior. Doubles from €79.
Niles Hotel Istanbul - clean and convenient with simple rooms and thoughtful staff. Great value for money. Doubles from €50.