May 24, 2009
After a morning in the Grand Bazaar and then the nearby Spice Bazaar on May 22, 2009, Linda and I had lunch at this rooftop restaurant, defying the old adage that the quality of the food is usually the opposite of the quality of the view. Hamdi seated us in a shady spot on the edge of the terrace with a spectacular view over the huge square below at Eminönü. This is the transport hub of Istanbul. The ferries come in here from points along and across the straits. There is a huge bus terminal, a tram stop, a railway station and the Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn to Beyoglu, the business district of Istanbul.
Linda with the Süleymaniye Mosque (1557) behind on the left and the Ataturk Bridge over the upper Golden Horn on the right.
Michael at our table with the Sea of Marmara and the New Mosque (1663.) We watched an enormous crowd of men entering the mosque this Friday after the 1:10 call to prayer.
We ordered a bottle of 2007 egeo Kavaklidere Cabernet Merlot which was very nice. It had less of the slight sweetness one finds in Turkish red wines. We chose the pureed eggplant and the artichoke appetizer; the first was excellent, but the second was disappointing with potatoes and other ordinary vegetables dominating the one large artichoke bottom. One mystery is why in this Mediterranean country we only saw the big globe artichokes and never the lovely little varieties which are in season right now in Italy and southern France. A basket of good grilled round bread arrived.
My main course was the Beyti Kebab. Hamdi is known for its wood charcoal grilled kebabs and only serves meat as its main courses, no fish. For the Beyti Kebab, veal and lamb was minced with garlic, parsley and sweet peppers. It was then grilled on a skewer. I thought that the spicing and grilling was just right. The spiced raw onion rings, rice and broiled tomato quarters were okay.
Linda’s main course was the Döner Kebab, perhaps the best known Turkish dish in Europe. Thin slices of lamb are marinated and stacked on a vertical turning spit. Shards are then carved off. As it was Friday, pistachios had been imbedded in the lamb. The flavor was very nice. Something like a warm wheat tortilla was added to our bread basket.
Our lunch was a good presentation of Turkish cuisine in a terrific setting.