Just returned from a 10 day visit to Istanbul and thought I would return the favor to everyone that wrote up their food experience there. Unfortunately, I didn't write down a lot of the names, but I will try my best.
Seasons Restaurant at the 4 Season Hotel
Our first night we got in late and stayed in the hotel. The experience was lovely and the food good, but I won't say it came close to being worth the price. Esp. after we had eaten around some more. But if you want true luxury dining, it fits the bill. The mezze is a good modern take and the spiced ice cream at the end is fabulous. My main course was so unremarkable, I don't remember what it was.
Balikci Sababattin, Sultanamet
The ONLY other place in the area worth going to. My turbot was perfectly cooked, the mezze was inventive and all the fish amazingly fresh. Avoid all other places like the plague. Each time we didn't, we regretted it greatly! I won't even bother listing them.
Kalçin Sokak – Eminönü
Tel : (0212) 528 03 90
For a place with a great view, the food is pretty tasty. Service was great and we got to see the water on our only sunny day there. Had the special kebob with red pepper and really enjoyed it.
We only had apps and drinks here, so I can't judge the real food. Also, we snuck in before the big Valentine's day dinner rush, so it wasn't a normal night. The cocktails, while crazy expensive, were good and it really is worth it just for a the view. Skip the dinner, have a drink and enjoy the sunset.
The Pudding Shop
We dropped in for b-fast. It was perfectly acceptable and cheap - two things we were looking for with the 4 Season prices. Didn't try the winter milk drink, which was probably a mistake.
Istanbul Modern Cafe
Istanbul Modern Museum, Salıpazarı
Tel : (0212) 292 26 12 -13
Great place to grab lunch, esp. on the free entrance Thursdays. Not the best food around, but good for a place with such a view. It did have a see and be seen feel to it, which can be entertaining
Recommended to us by the 4, it was a decent traditional Tturkish place. We ate of many of them and found them to be very similar. The mezze is predictable and you can tell they cater to the tourist crowd.
Another 4 recommendation. More festive than Alem. We had our first and last Raki experience. Still not quite sure what was up with the almonds and ice. Overall, a good sampling of Turkish food. I can live on the yogurt curry dip and be happy for a long time.
We ate at so many other places, but were taken there by locals so I don't have the info. While there I did fall in love with a number of dishes and highly recommend trying them (most are hard to avoid!)
Chicken And Orzo Soup (Tavuklu Şehriye Çorbası) (I will learn how to make this!)
Red Lentil Soup (Interesting to try the different kinds)
Kırkağaç Hamburgers (Kırkağaç Köftesi) (Why can't our "hamburgers" taste like this?)
Ground Meat Turkish Pizza (Kıymalı Kır Pidesi) (The mixed pizza is good for trying different things all at once.)
Yogurt Soup So fabulous!
Anchovy and Rice Pies (Hamsili Pilav) My final meal there and one of the best!
And my new addiction:
Turkish Ravioli (Kayseri Mantısı) I'll never be able to make them, but I will find a place to buy them. I probably had it over 6 times while there. LOVE it.
Things I wish I had tried:
Pomegranate juice....I didn't try it bc of a bad juice incident in India, now greatly regret that!
Raw Köfte (Çiğ Köfte) Just couldn't go there, which is bad of me.
Seseme Rings They were all over and we kept meaning to buy one. Some how didn't.
Things I didn't love....
Turkish Burnt Rice Pudding (Firin Sutlaç) I tried it 3 times. Each sorta flavorless
Turkish Delights. I do enjoy the double cooked ones, but I think my Western palate is limited and can't get around the rose taste
Apple Tea Got suckered into trying it and there is a reason it is only for the tourists!
Hope this is helpful.