January 17, 2012

Istanbul's best cultural cafés & eateries

Winter is the perfect time to catch up on all the indoor cultural events you missed during the busy summer months. Stock up on Istanbul's cultural heritage while enjoying the finest cuisine. E. Zeynep Güler-Tuck and Gizem Ünsalan have sought out the best museum and gallery eateries for your enjoyment


Located in the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the stylish Istanbul Modern Café has a spacious terrace with a breathtaking view of theBosphorus. The museum, with its permanent and temporary exhibits ranging from local to international art, is one of Turkey’s best collections of contemporary art. The exhibition touches upon the relationship between nature, inanimate objects and people. When you want to take a break on your next visit, stop by the Istanbul Modern Café, which sits at the entrance beside the souvenir shop and is a great place to enjoy a glass from their select wine list. The menu consists of authentic Turkish dishes like Akçaabat köfte, served with Aegean-style sautéed vegetables and wrapped Swiss chard in olive oil, alongside international dishes like smoked salmon and pappardelle with fresh coriander. (0212) 292 2612. Meclis-i MebusanCaddesi, Liman Işletmeleri, Sahası, Antrepo 4, Karaköy. Open daily from10.00-24.00, Monday-Saturday, andfrom 10.00-18.00 on Sunday.www.istanbulmodern.org/en

Dine like the sultans at Karakol Restaurant, located between Hagia Irene and the Imperial Walls in the First Yard of the Topkapı Palace Museum. This museum is where the most salient examples of Ottoman opulence, from copper- and silverware to weaponry, the imperial treasury to the portraits and clothes of the sultans, are on display today. With four main courtyards, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Fully equipped with a Harem, Turkish baths, Imperial Hall, a Circumcision Room, Kiosk,Pavilions, Private Apartments, Mosques, Privy Chambers and gates galore, the minimum time it takes to drink the palace grounds in is 3 hours. In which case, it might be a good idea to either grab a bite before-hand or rest your weary feet at the on-site restaurant, Karakol, after your visit. The building where Karakol Restaurant is located used to be an exterior guard post of the palace during the Ottoman era.Today, Karakol serves authentic Turkish dishes on its a la carte menu and Mediterranean cuisine on its café menu. Take your pick!
(0212) 514 9494. Karakol Building,next to Hagia Irene, Sultanahmet.Open daily from 10.00-23.00.www.karakolrestaurant.com

In 2005, the award-winning Changa restaurant in Taksim opened its spin-off restaurant, MüzedeChanga, in the garden of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Emirgan. Visitors of the temporary and permanent galleries of this modern museum can enjoy light repasts during the day, or even decide to return to the grounds at night when the restaurant serves Turkish-Mediterranean dishes with a modern twist. The menu is supervised by consultant Chef Peter Gordon, while the restaurant is right beside the Horse Mansion and sits on land that boasts one of the most stunning views of the Bosphorus. The décor of this eatery is a mixture of glass, wood and steel, with custom-made furniture created by renowned local designing firm, Autoban.
(0212) 323 0901. Sakıp Sabanc›Caddesi 42, Emirgan. Open dailyfrom 10.30-01.00, except onMondays. Call to make reservationsbefore 18.00 for dinner.www.changa-istanbul.com

Cafe du Levant
Café Du Levant, Demlik Kafe, Halat Restaurant and Bar Bar Rossa are all housed in the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, which served as the anchor moulding workshop for the Haliç Shipyard during the Ottoman reign in the 19th century. It currently holds a reputation for being Turkey’s first museum dedicated to Transport, Communications and Industry. The main dining hall on the museum property is Café Du Levant, which takes you back to 1930s Paris with its décor, romantic details and French cuisine. Located in the museum’s garden, Café Du Levant is a great place to have coffee with mousse au chocolat or to enjoy a thoroughly French meal with a glass of wine. Another ideal location to taste light snacks during your visit to the museum is Demlik Kafe, located inside the Automobile gallery. Decorated with antique tea sets and porcelains, Demlik Kafe offers coffee, tea and sandwiches during the hours that the museum is in operation. With its sailor-inspired décor and Mediterranean menu, Halat Restaurant is another eatery located in the Rahmi M. Koç Museum. Taste Turkish and foreign wines along with dishes like the roasted lamb chops with yogurt served with vegetable tart and potatoes, and enjoy the beautiful Haliç view from Halat’s terrace in the summer. Bar Bar Rossa, an English pub located on the museum grounds that provides alcoholic beverages to Halat Restaurant, was decorated with antiques from Rahmi M. Koç’s private collection and is open throughout the year.
All venues are located at: Kumbarhane Caddesi  2, Hasköy, Sütlüce. www.cafedulevant.com 
Café Du Levant - (0212) 369 6607. cafedulevant.com Open daily from10.00-17.00, except Mondays.
Demlik Kafe - (0212) 369 6600. Open from 10.00-17.00 on weekdays and from 10.00-19.00 on the weekends. 
Halat Restaurant - (0212) 369 6616. halatrestaurant.com Open daily from 10.00-22.00, except Mondays. 
Bar Bar Rossa- (0212) 369 6616. Open nightly, except Mondays.

Orhan Kemal was one of Turkey’s most prominent 20th-century authors. The Orhan Kemal Museum and Bookstore, where the author’s life is chronicled through photographs, letters and personal belongings, and where fans can purchase Kemal’s works, opened in 2000. Since Kemal wrote his booksand conversed with his friends at the Ikbal Kahve in Eminönü, his son converted the bottom floor of the Cihangir museum into Ikbal Kahve. Stop by here to enjoy a cup of tea and chances are you’ll find the son there, always willing to talk about his father’s work.
(0212) 292 9245-1213. Akarsu Caddesi 32 Cihangir, Taksim. Open on weekdays from 10.00-19.00. www.orhankemal.org

SantralIstanbul is a cultural, arts and education centre located in the Silahtarağa Power Plant in Haliç, which was renovated by Istanbul Bilgi University. This multi-faceted centre has something for everyone, with workshops for kids, teens and adults. It’s been in operation since 2007. Otto, which is well-known for its Asmalımescit and Çeşme, Alaçatı venues, opened up an indoor location in SantralIstanbul. The menu offers international flavours (they’re especially well-known for their hazelnut vodka). They serve everything from the Otto Burger to Salmon Tagliatelle to lahmacun (Turkish Pizza). Grab a seat after your gallery visit and enjoy the Cheesecake of the Day. Otto Santral also hosts musicians and DJs. Time Out Istanbu lawarded Otto Santral the “Best Interior Design” award in 2007. As for Tamirane, with metal lamps dangling from its high ceilings and its vintage-inspired DJ booth, it may seem more like a nightlife venue, but it’s actually an ambitious restaurant. The menu is comprised of mostly Mediterranean flavours with a unique presentation.
Tamirane’s bar is the place to go for cocktails, with classics such as the “Pear Margarita” and drinks you won’t find anywhere else, like the “30-spiced Tamirane Vodka.”
Both venues are located at: Eski Silahtarağa, Elektrik Santralı, Kazım Karabekir Caddesi 2/6, Eyüp.
Otto Santral - (0212) 427 1889. Open from 10.00-02.00 on weekdays and from 10.00-04.00 on the weekends. www.otto-restaurant.com
Tamirane - (0212) 311 7309. Open from 10.00-24.00 Monday-Thursday, from 10.00-02.00 Friday-Saturday and from 10.00-22.00 on Sunday. www.tamirane.com

Opened in 2008, the Arte Istanbul Art Gallery (Arte Istanbul Sanat Galerisi) is the city’s first sculpture gallery, located in the heart of Beyoğlu. While you’re enjoying the sculptures in the garden (weather-permitting), grab a seat at Café Arte for a light snack or stay for a while and sample from their delicious daily lunch specials.
(0212) 292 8045. Kumbaracı Yokuşu, Tercüman Çıkmazı 16/1, Beyoğlu. Open daily from 09.00-18.00, except Sunday.www.arteistanbul.com

Located in the well-manicured garden of the Dolmabahçe Palace, next to the Clock Tower, the café offers reasonably priced dishes like tost (grilled cheese sandwiches) and hamburgers, though their beverage menu is more extensive. After touring the beautiful gardens of the former residence of the Ottoman Sultans and then the President of theTurkish Republic, enjoy the Bosphorus view for as long as the weather permits.
(0212) 236 9000/1279. Dolmabahçe Caddesi, Befliktaş. Open daily from 09.00-22.00. www.dolmabahcepalace.com

*Originally published in the Novembe 2010 issue of Time Out Istanbul in English.


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