Balikçi Sabahattin, Istanbul

May 22, 2009

On May 21, 2009, shortly after arriving in Istanbul, Linda and I walked the few blocks from the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet Hotel down to Balikçi Sabahattin. The name means Fisherman Sabahattin, which refers to the father of the man who established Balikçi Sabahattin in its current building in 1927. blo
It was almost full when we arrived at 8:00. Fortunately, the hotel had made us a reservation. Tables were scattered all around the front of the restaurant. We were offered a table right by the front door, but it seemed too busy. We were discouraged from choosing an inside table as it was very crowded. We finally chose a quiet table up a little alleyway.  There were several alleycats waiting for a handout of fish and our neighbors did not disappoint them.


There was a fragrant little pot of small leaf basil on the table. Menus were brought, but they served little purpose. We did order our one hot appetizer from them. There was also a beverage list from which we ordered a bottle of Turkish 2007 Sarafin Fumé Blanc.

It was nice, but a bit tart.
Eventually we would order a bottle of 2007 Sarafin Chardonnay, which was not so tart, but was a bit flabby.

The tray of mezes, or cold appetizers arrived.

We picked one of mashed roasted eggplants with garlic that was delicious.

Also one of mackerel and one of marinated sea bass with peppercorns.

Both were good and well spiced.

A bowl of chilies in olive oil arrived which was left on the table for the rest of the meal; I used it very sparingly; Linda not at all.

Excellent hot freshly grilled toast arrived which set off the olive oil in the mezes nicely.

Our hot appetizer was grilled calamari.

I thought they were just right and that the yoghurt sauce went well, but Linda thought that the red pepper with which they had been grilled was a bit too much.

The waiter then came by and told us what fish they had available. They were displayed on ice by the entrance.

We could select one and chose between grilling  and frying. We chose grilled turbot (upper right in the photo.) There was a substantial wait before it arrived.

A large turbot had been aggressively grilled and then sliced crosswise. We each received three slices, which included the bones. I thought that the grilling was quite successful. Although the fish was charred, it was not dry and had not lost its excellent flavor.

Although the desserts looked interesting, we had been at Balikçi Sabahattin long enough and walked slowly back up the hill to out hotel.

I would recommend Balikçi Sabahattin to anyone. It may have the best food in the Sultanahmet area, which is filled with tourist shops and restaurants. Balikçi Sabahattin is purely Turkish, as was most of the clientele. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The bill was 275 TL (US$180), which I found reasonable for a meal including grilled fresh turbot and two bottles of wine.

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