When mere sustenance starts to become listless, Istanbul’s upscale restaurants are present to offer innovative flavor combinations, wine pairings, and an excuse to get dressed up. Here is a look at some of the city’s most successful fine dining venues that offer a journey through food (or food as edible art) for something a little different.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Turkish, $$$
Inspired by the Scandinavian approach to fine dining (as well as aesthetics), Alancha takes its inspiration from the history of Anatolia to come up with profoundly innovative dishes. You will find classics that are deconstructed, offering a whole different approach to taste. Downstairs, a research kitchen works full-time to discover the newest ingredients for upcoming menus, while upstairs, the minimal décor and dim lighting make for a unique experience that you will not be able to find anywhere else in Istanbul. The Anatolian Tasting Menu includes artisan ingredients from the seven regions of Anatolia and features updated versions of classic dishes such as Antakya Kubbeh, Çiğ Köfte, and Mıhlama (to name a few).
This fantastic haute cuisine establishment has yet to receive proper recognition even though its tasting menus, accompanied by excellent wines, are simply perfect. Inspired by seasonal ingredients from Turkey’s organic markets and local producers, Nicole takes simple tastes and elevates them to surreal levels of deliciousness. Located on the top floor of Tom Tom Suites, the dimly lit venue overlooks the beautiful Sultanahmet’s glittering lights at night. On the menu, you will find combinations such as stone bass, courgette, olive, and basil; porcini agnolotti, sunflower seed nougat, and chard; and crab, green apple, cucumber, and lime. Make sure to leave room for dessert because Nicole’s pastry chef is a real talent in terms of everything saccharine.
No talk about fine dining in Istanbul would be complete without mentioning Mikla, one of the first upscale restaurants to open in the city. Chosen among The Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Mikla’s full-time anthropologist works alongside chef and restauranteur Mehmet Gürs to create stunning dishes that have become the basis of a project called the New Anatolian Kitchen. Located on the top floor of the Marmara Pera Hotel, the restaurant has a stunning 360-degree view of Istanbul, and in the summer, its terrace bar is one of the best places to get a drink and take in the city’s beauty. On the menu, you will find dishes such as braised lamb with wild cabbage, Giresun walnut, salted yogurt, potato, Bergama tulum cheese, cumin, and plum pestil or monkfish with ‘Karnı Kırmızı’ bean, clam, camel sucuk, and herbed cornbread (to give you an idea).
Located in Salt Galata, one of the city’s most beautifully renovated buildings housing a gallery and library, Neolokal is all about the reinterpretation of the traditional Anatolian tastes. With floor-to-ceiling windows that allow the full Istanbul view to flood in, the restaurant follows the rules of farm-to-table with main ingredients sourced from only the best local producers. The more than 20 dishes travel from the Black Sea to Izmir and beyond, with classics such as borani, completely reinvented and deconstructed for a brand new taste experience. Complementing the great dishes is a wine list as well as a cheese cart that continue to represent Anatolia in every way with the best of local products.