Monday, August 25, 2014

Some days, I cannot help but be nostalgic for my old life in Istanbul.

Mostly, I miss my friends. I often see their friendly faces pop up on my computer’s screensaver. This happened the other day, and I was reminded of the luxurious (good-bye) brunch we enjoyed with our dear friends at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski last March.

If you want to splurge, I don’t think you could dream up any more beautiful location along the Bosphorus than the Çırağan Palace, a former Ottoman palace and currently a 5-star hotel in the Kempinski Hotels chain. The palace, located between the neighborhoods of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy, dates back to 1863-1872, when construction was completed.
In 1910, a raging fire destroyed the palace, leaving only the outer walls intact. Then, the palace served as a football stadium for the Beşiktaş team for several years and finally was restored a couple times in the last 20 years. The Kempinski chain returned the palace to its former baroque style filled with polished marble and elegant tapestries. We enjoyed walking around the hotel mesmerized by its grandeur.
 On Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m., the palace’s Laledan Restaurant hosts an amazing brunch featuring a breakfast buffet with more than 250 mouth-watering items, including sushi and made-to-order risotto or omelets. The brunch costs 140tl per person (about $100USD when we went) and includes a glass of sparkling wine as well as tea and coffee.

The brunch is served inside a magnificent room facing the Bosphorus with high ceilings and decorative tables and chairs. Throughout the room, you’ll see images of the Turkish lale (tulip). When the weather is warmer, I understand you can enjoy your brunch outside on the terrace.
Now, let’s head to the buffet! You’ll find many elements of the traditional Turkish breakfast such as several varieties of cheese and salami, dried fruits, nuts, jams, honey, breads and pastries. However, I opted for more the “exotic” items such as smoked salmon, fresh mozzarella with basil, risotto, freshly carved roast beef, curried chicken and the sushi bar. I was in sushi heaven!
I cannot even remember how many times we all went back up to the buffet to refill our plates!

Oh, also if you have children, like our friends did, you can simply drop them off in a nearby playroom and enjoy your luxurious brunch in peace! After brunch, you may want to let your child run off some of that extra sugar outside on the palace’s extensive grounds.
A long hallway is the perfect place for 3-year-old to run!
Of course, you must save room for dessert! The desserts are created by the talented William McCarrick, the hotel's Executive Pastry Chef and Master Chocolatier, whom I had the pleasure to meet in person in 2013, and his team. There’s even an entire “chocolate room” dedicated to delicious delights dipped and covered in milk, dark and white chocolate. I think I may have consumed a box of chocolate truffles by myself!
For pastry enthusiasts, you’ll also find a wide variety of mini desserts and petit fours.
More than a year later, I still have fond memories of this beautiful brunch and of course, our dear friends back in Istanbul!

Afiyet olsun!
Elena and me outside after brunch at the Çırağan Palace.
Hubby and me with a Bosphorus view in the background.
Don't you want to jump into this heated pool? 
Çırağan Palace Kempinski
Yıldız Mah.
Çırağan Caddesi No:32
Telephone: +90 212 236 7333

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Geriatric Gapper said...

Great post about a great place! Love the photos. Yummy!

Joy said...

Thanks Elizabeth! I'd love to go back under sunnier skies!

BacktoBodrum said...

My other half was lucky to be invited to eat at the Kepinsky in Bodrum while I was away. He was impressed!

Julia said...

Wow, yeah pricey but what a lovely place and a great looking brunch. Think I'd have been back for second and third helpings, too.

Joy said...

@Annie, even better if someone else is paying! :-)

Joy said...

@Julia, when you're leaving a place you love, a splurge is definitely worth it! We were quite gluttonous that day!