Fresh Seafood, Great Views on the Bosphorus

Dreaming of sunny 75 degree days of sight seeing in Istanbul and dining on the Bosphorus this cold, rainy, windy Hurricane Sandy filled evening …

Ah, fresh seafood, great views. What could be better? Just make sure you leave plenty of time to get there, since the road along the Bosphorus coast gets *busy* on a weekend, as in developing world traffic and not always scrupulous cab drivers.

All the books recommend Bebek Balikci as the best seafood restaurant in Istanbul and even one of our cab drivers gave it the thumbs up. We enjoyed our food there, particularly the mezze, which the server brought out for us on a tray so we could see the food while hearing the description. The octopus, in particular, was amazing, tender, succulent and well-flavored.

Cold mezze of vine leaves, seaweed and octopus salad

The problem was the cab ride. Or I should say, cab rides; our original cab decided traffic was too much for him, charged us a (relatively) outrageous amount and deposited us along the side of the road, pointing vaguely to a block of restaurants saying, your restaurant is over there. In actuality, Bebek Balikci was another 20 minute cab ride away.

I guess starting dinner 45 minutes late isn’t the best way to make an impression. So I can’t really give a fair assessment of Bebek Balikci. The food was good and service was nice, but because we got there so late, we lost any chance of sitting somewhere with a view (we were inside, in the middle of the dining room) and we were just this-close to a major meltdown.

Ironically, our cab driver kicked us out right across from Sur Balik, which we tried a few days later. A four-story mansion overlooking the Bosphorus, lovely early Fall weather and a waiter with just enough attitude to remind you of a kitchy New York deli. It was one of our favorite meals, just a wonderful evening all around.

I think that’s also when we realized that, without meaning to, we were upsetting the order of things – cold mezze, hot mezze, salad, main course, dessert, coffee (and raki?) – by not always ordering the full set of starters, usually leaving out the salad or sometimes overloading on cold mezze and skipping the hot ones. Once our server at Sur Balik made peace with the fact that we didn’t want salad, despite his repeated offers, we were all good. And his surprised expression when we asked for raki was priceless: Turkish raki? As if there were any other kind!

Our best meal – a meal as G says, we could have had in New York – was probably at Feriye, at the foot of the Bosporus bridge. Very international in style, I mean, the guy at the table next to us had steak, and it looked great, as in red, not overdone at all.

view of Bosphorus bridge from dinner at Feriye

We shared a cold smoked seafood medley to start off at Feriye …

one of the cold seafood starters at Feriye

… and then I moved to grilled prawns, sweet, salty, sea-tasting and succulent, perfectly cooked to bring out the natural flavors:

Grilled prawns that speak for themselves

Only dessert was a bit weird, I think it was some type of almond pudding or flan:

You can’t really go wrong dining on the Bosphorus when the weather’s nice.

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