It really did seem like we've spent a good deal of time in Istanbul. In actuality, I'm thinking maybe three weeks max. On our last couple of short stays we started getting away from Sultanahmet and taking the metro to places like Osmanbey and Sisli, home of the Nisantasi Shopping Mall. On the top floor you can walk out onto a small patio and take a photo like this one....though the heights kinda got to me rather quickly.
This is the hip and modern Istanbul, looking all the world like just about any major city in the world.......including the traffic.
Having at least a rudimentary familiarity with a city is nice as it opens up other options for shopping and dining.
We'd kind of hit the wall with eating in Istanbul. All of the nice young men in the hotel, except one, who really knew his stuff, would recommend tourist type places. Like the fish restaurants that line the touristy Kumkapi Fish Market area.
Hawker's try to lure you in....but they lose us as soon as they mentioned the "culture show"......
Across the street is the bright, mega-restaurant district of Kumkapi, which seemed a bit too much for us.
All of these type of restaurant/entertainment districts have a certain look and feel to them. The bright lights, the loud music, the free flowing alcohol. Nothing against this, but we wanted something a bit more low-keyed.
And we found just the place. It was a bit of a walk, about 3 kilometers from our hotel. But we had just walked past Kumkapi into the area known as Yenikapi. Right past a massive Korean Restaurant on Kennedy Caddesi we saw this place that looked full of locals.
We walked on up the stairs and noticed that even though the restaurant dining area was pretty large, everyone was eating on the patio. All the customers were male when we arrived, though more couples started coming in a bit later on. More importantly, everyone seemed to know the servers.....like they were regulars, just what we were looking for.
When the men started coming around with trays....we knew we had found a Meyhane.
Though I'm thinking that there must be an amount of tourist business as there's an English translation of the menu.
Anyway, we were met with sort of an amused attitude. There was one Server, a really nice guy, who spoke passable English and I think he found us a bit interesting as we took to the menu like wolves.....
All the usual suspects were present.
He seemed even more amused that I actually knew the names of some of the dishes, like Acili Ezme....
Which was really good, chunky, decent spice, slight pungency.....
And the delicious shaksuka.
All of which was made for bread....we were provided with two different variations.
The Missus just loved this salad, which I thought was a version of Coban Salatsi, but the gentleman said no....so we asked what it's called. He didn't quite know what to call it. So what to do? We he broke out his iPhone and translated it to English......"chopped salad?!?" We just cracked up. I still think it's a version of Coban Salatasi. Whatever the name, it's delicious!
There was one item we saw on every table, so I just had to try it out. The Missus hesitated at first, but I just had ot have it. The Server brought us a piece to try and we were sold.
This is called Çiğ köfte. In this case it's minced raw lamb combined with bulghar, herbs, and spices. Wrapped in the lettuce leaf with a mint leaf it is pure heaven. Refreshing, a bit lamby, herbaceous, and now one of my favorite things!
As we were polishing things off, our Server came by and dropped this off for us, saying "we have extra...."
This was a really tasty lahmacun. Nice crisp bread topped with a very tasty mixture of lamb and spices. Have you noticed the lack of Sultan posts in the last year or so? It's mainly because the Missus has had the food here.......
The next day we headed off to Rhodes and Symi, but we hadn't forgotten Sahre. When we returned to Istanbul, we had one full day before heading home. That's when we visited Osmanbey. When the inevitable lunch question arose, the Missus asked to eat at Sahre. That would be quite a hike, so we decided on a cab.....we weren't sure on how we'd communicate the instructions correctly to the driver, until the Missus found a package of sugar from the restaurant in Her bag.
It took a while with Istanbul traffic, but we finally arrived poised for lunch.
One thing we noticed as we walked up the stairs was that a makeshift table was set-up in the downstairs parking area. A family of five was eating there. The Missus quickly noticed that one of the older gentleman was in a wheelchair. I guess this is the handicap section set-up.
We were a bit disappointed to find that Çiğ köfte was not served for lunch! The Missus hadn't stopped talking about it for the week we were in Rhodes. Anyway, Her other favorites where still available. Our favorite Server wasn't working and it's not the typical meyhane set-up for lunch, so I just pointed to the menu, which was supplemented with a trip to the back to select what we wanted.
We also ordered some içli köfte.
Think of this as being like a croquette or kibbeh. The best thing was the texture.
I also saw chicken wings on the menu. I really enjoyed the version at Mehmet Kebab, so why not try it here as well?
We both tried the grilled green peppers. Most regions in Turkey don't care for really spicy food. I had tried the peppers at Can Can Pide in Antalya which were pretty darn hot. But this was Istanbul, folks don't like things too hot here, so I took a bite....yikes! Man, this had some pretty good heat. That's when we noticed that all the plates on the tables around us still had their peppers intact.
It ended up being a nice lunch. We had dinner reservation later that evening at Mimolett Restaurant, a restaurant that is trying hard for a Michelin star, but we both had out hearts set on having that Çiğ köfte one more time. So we ended up cancelling when we got back to our hotel.
It was our last evening in Istanbul for this trip and we took our time walking the 3 kilometers to the restaurant.
Still we arrived at Sahre a bit early. A few minutes later "our" Server arrived, looking quite amused to see us. We asked about the Çiğ köfte, and he told us, "no, until 7....."
But we were here and determined to get what we had come here twice in one day for...... It was our last night in Turkey and this was a Meyhane, so I decided to get a couple of Efes.
Meanwhile, we noticed storm clouds coming in from the Mamaris. We, like everyone else were seated on the patio, but were safe since we had the awning above us. Soon enough raindrops started to fall and the most amazing drill was initiated. Like a well oiled machine, all the tables were moved from this configuration....
To this....in a matter of minutes......
We had started dinner......
Of course our Server knew the Missus was after one thing. So a few minutes into our meal, he told the Missus "come" and took Her into the kitchen of the restaurant and the station where the Çiğ köfte was being prepared. He then grabbed one for the Missus to have on the way back to our table!
Of course we got the first plate when it finally came out of the kitchen.
It was just as good as our previous visit.
For some reason, we really took to this place. We'll be back the next time we're in Istanbul.
Gaziantep Sahre Restaurant
Kennedy Caddesi No 130 Sahilyolu Yenikapi, Istanbul
We walked through all the restaurants in Kumkapi, then back to Vericeriler Caddesi which turned into Divan Yolu Caddesi.
We mainly wanted that one last view of the Blue Mosque at night.
As the final call to prayer started, I looked out at that same quiet street in front of the Hotel Djem. There's something about Istanbul that I love....that had me visiting here twice in two years. I'm not sure what it is, but it's just a matter of time before I return.
Thanks for reading!
This post is dedicated to "Senor" who got me to finally take the time to write this post. I hope you have a great time in Turkey!