We stayed around the corner from a cool little hotel (in a not-so cool hotel, but that's another blog altogether...) with a great restaurant.
We were leery about eating there at first because it is located directly across from the Four Seasons Hotel ($650 night for a double...) and we figured the bill would kill us.
That and some very serious looking very white people couldn't hide their distress at the appearance of our gang. However, it's Turkey and the people running the restaurant were more than happy to have a gang of little guys in their place. The mayonnaise winced through their meal each time the children spoke or were kissed on by the waitress but happily, they were done pretty quickly.
As it turns out the restaurant is rather reasonable and quite delicious. Great service MORE than made up for the dramatics of the clientele.
By this juncture in our trip both the husband and I were feeling the effects of all that grilled meat so we opted for lentil soup and to share a platter of vegetarian mezze (appetizers). It was definitely high on the list of memorable meals for me.
Turkish lentil soup is made with red split lentils and is quite delicate and delicious. The recipes in every place we ate seem pretty standard but the one at this hotel was distinctive for its fresh, bright taste. Sumac differentiates this soup from other lentil soups.
Our waitress brought us a large fresh loaf of puffed crispy bread coated with sesame seeds. The appetizer plate consisted of
Cubes of eggplant roasted in olive oil and salt.
A roasted eggplant spread like Baba Ghanoush studded with pomegranate seeds.
Roasted red peppers with parsley and olive oil
Yogurt cheese with herbs
A super creamy hummus
Boiled potato seasoned with fresh herbs and oil and a
Tomato and olive pesto-like spread.
I know it all sounds rather simple, but it was perfectly delicious. Each thing simply sang with bright juicy vegetable flavors. I think the Eggplant is very different in Turkey. It is sweeter and smaller and doesn't have that nightshade bite to it. Whatever they are doing in their little kitchen, they are making some alchemy.
If you are in Istanbul, run, don't walk to this restaurant...