Sunday, August 21, 2011

(I apologize for the blog absence this past week. We had friends visiting from the U.S. so I was busy playing tour guide. There never seems to be enough time to sort through all the photos.)

I relish those rare moments when we have nothing planned so we can actually stroll around Istanbul and not feel rushed to get to the next destination.

Before our guests arrived, we spent one Sunday afternoon meandering through nearby Ortaköy, which means “middle village.” It’s hard to believe this bustling neighborhood on the European Bosphorus shore used to lie in the middle of the city’s boundaries.

Now, Ortaköy is full of trendy boutiques, open-air bars and cafes, kumpir and waffle stands and vendors selling jewelry and handmade trinkets. I bought a darling set of glass nar-topped çay kaşığı (tea spoons). It’s a good place to spend an afternoon and relax like we did.

First, we walked by one of  Ortaköy’s most famous landmarks - the Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque of Sultan Abdülmecid), which generally is referred to as the Ortaköy Mosque. The eclectic-Baroque mosque, built in 1854, is the work of architect Nikogos Balyan, whom also designed the Dolmabahçe Palace. As you can see from the photo, the mosque currently is undergoing extensive renovations to its exterior.

The Ortaköy Mosque is depicted here with the Bosphorus bridge in the background.
Second, we found an open table at one of the many rooftop cafes along the Bosphorus shore and each ordered a half-litre of Efes beer. This also would be a great area to enjoy a weekend brunch.

After our beers, we decided to check out Banyan Restaurant, an Asian-Fusion restaurant I had heard about from a friend. The restaurant is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but the view was so fantastic we decided to stay and ordered a late afternoon cocktail here.
A view of the Bosphorus with Sultanahmet in the background.
Often, we are disappointed by expensive cocktails because they are poorly made. It’s easier and cheaper to drink at home thanks to my bartender husband and our steady supply of duty-free alcohol.

But this time, Banyan pleasantly surprised us. My pomegranate martini was perfect with just a hint of lime while my husband’s cucumber gin martini was refreshing. 30 TL each.

Martinis at Banyan in Istanbul
We decided to have a snack to accompany the drinks - mini chicken satays with a sweet chili dipping sauce. 17 TL. Because we dined before 5 p.m., our check later showed a discount of 15 percent, which also surprised us.

A complimentary order of herbed bread and pickled vegetables in olive oil  

We were happy and mildly full, so we grabbed a taxi to head home.

When you are in Istanbul, I highly recommend taking the time to while away a few hours in Ortaköy.

Tagged: , ,


Julia said...

Wooow, that restaurant is at the slightly more expensive end of the spectrum. ;) Glad they did your cocktails well though - enough to match the beautiful view. We love Ortaköy but I think we might be sticking to the kumpir next time we're there. :)

Joy said...

There are plenty of places in Ortakoy to enjoy the view! Even just grabbing some dondurma and sitting down by the pier is nice! =)

Sheryl Sparks said...


Joy said...

@Sheryl, hope to see you after the bayram!