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Balikci Sabahattin, Sultanahmet Area, Istanbul

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Balikci Sabahattin, Sultanahmet Area, Istanbul

DaRuMaCa | May 28, 2012 07:31 AM

“Most unpleasant dining experience ever!”

This Restaurant came recommended by both Rick Steves' Istanbul and Formers Guide! Imagine our surprise to find that this was a deplorable establishment in every aspect.

The location was in a skuzzy area and not safe to walk to at night. There are abandoned houses and a feeling of malaise in the adjoining properties. We were happy we had chosen to come by taxi and not walk the few blocks from our hotel.

The menu items mentioned in both guides above spoke of delicious "hot and cold mezes" (appetizers which the Turks are so good at) of herbed monkfish, rice pilaf with mussels and grilled calamari. None of which was offered that night we were there, namely Sunday May 20.

First: The attitude of the staff was contemptuous, rude, aggressive and forceful. The night got off to a bad start when the head waiter in a contemptuous and aggressive manner threw down the menus in front of us.

The decor is acceptable and could be charming and is made up of 5 different rooms from al fresco to internal rooms inside an old house. The maitre d’ had wanted to seat us next to the stinky fish tanks near the entranceway, but we declined that table and were directed to a second floor. Apart from the white table cloths and old photos on the walls there was little charm or ambiance to speak of. However when our menus were thrown down in front of us we should have walked out as the signs were there of what was to follow but, we were celebrating our last wonderful 5 days in Istanbul with another couple and chose not to make a fuss. The waiter demanded to have our order before we were able to decide, and were deliberately rushed. Then they did not wait for us to choose our Mezze (appertisers) and we had already decided from the web site on 4 hot mezes, however we were not given to option to choose but rather they brought a large tray full of cold Meze and started putting them down in front of us all under the instructions of our head waiter. We demanded they remove their choices and made out own from the tray. All this took place while the head waiter talked between each other in Turkish. We choose a avacado Guacamoles and two other Mezze all of which were tasteless and boring and indistinguishable from each other, indicating they were not fresh. The fish were all grilled and the only option is the type of fish and the waiter stool over us and rushed us to order. Our choice was only GRILLED FISH, with the option to choose only the type of fish. We ordered under pressure and the fish arrived before we had finished our Mezze which were still in front of us. They rudely removed them and literally THREW our dishes of fish in front of us concurrently removing our appetizer plates. The wait staff were uttering snide and aggressive remarks during this time in a deliberate effort to affect intimidation. This kind of behavior is not conducive to a fine dining establishment. The whole fish arrived with the most boring of presentation, namely with a piece of yellowed cold slice of potato on top of ice berg lettuce and a slice of lemon and nothing else. On line I had seen photos of radishes, half a lemon etc.,. The fish was not over cooked and was flaky and fresh, but it was without any seasoning and the same aggressive behavior of the wait staff continued, but evern more aggressive and resentful, rushing us and rude. When we asked for the dessert menu (which I had taken the time to read before the meal as I always plan my meal to leave room for dessert) but instead of the menu we had 3 desserts of THEIR choice plunked in front of us, namely: . strawberries with a bowl of icing sugar; stewed figs and a semolina Havla that was not as nice as flavourful as the one we had at a cafe at under the Galata Bridge that same day at a fraction of the cost.

This was the worst dining experience of our entire life. Our group of 4 felt the staff was UNDER DIRECT INSTRUCTIONS to hurry up the guests, not give them any choice, and we felt the aggression, negativity and rudeness was being encouraged from the top down.

This might have once been a good dining destination at some time in the past, but it has become a CASH COW, rip off joint for the owner who is not interested in the longevity of the establishment but in raking in a fast buck. We left feeling "taken" and could not get out of the establishment fast enough. The look on other dining guests told a similar story! ..... go there at the risk of a a thoroughly unpleasant dining experience of food that is ho hum, service that is deliberately rude and aggressive.
This had to be the most unpleasant dining experience of our life time. Avoid this place at all costs as there are so many wonderful food experiences in the Sultamet area of Istanbul and beyond (see “asatane” with its wonderful Ottoman food in the Edirnekapi area next door to the St. Savior Chora Church, or Karokoy Lotantasi, in Koaakoy . Why put up with third rate food, at big prices and terrible attitude and pay for indigestion and a bad after taste?

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