Istanbul is a food lover’s dream come true. Check out a favorite innovative restaurant offering regional flavors with a new twist.
Istanbul makes every inch of the food lover in me somersault with anticipation. My first trip there had been a discovery of its food and wine culture with a group of press people. Even if Istanbul was the shortest stay on our way to another part of Turkey, the Northern Thrace, the markets, shops and restaurants we passed were enough to take a whiff of comprehension of how vast and rich the gastronomy is. The whole country has a diversity of cuisines due to its cultural interactions throughout its colorful history. Being eclectic and dynamic, Istanbul is the place to catch different kinds of cuisines. Whether you are looking for the classic ones that stretches its roots from the Ottoman empire, international cuisines or even more inspiring, the interweaving of traditional characteristics with contemporary ideas, this is definitely the right city to explore.
This is exactly what brought me to Vogue. And with Chef Ali Ronay being the Operations Executive Chef of D.reams (mother company of Vogue), it gives me more reason to visit it as I have had the greatest pleasure of trying his cooking for a few days at Vinero Winery and Hotel in the past. Vogue provides an innovative cuisine focusing on regional flavors with international twists, an impressive variety of sushi and an extensive wine list. It was also the first and remains to be the only one to concoct a molecular cocktail menu in Turkey. And yes, the service is impeccable and friendly. Without a doubt, it is one of the best in the city, and it was even declared as one of the best restaurants in the world by the New York City-based Zagat Survey. Vogue has been reigning in the cosmopolitan scene in Istanbul from the time it was established in 1997.
Vogue is located in Akaretler, an upscale residential and commercial neighborhood of the city. It has a winning position in the topmost floor of the Besiktas Plaza office building which permits the diners an outstanding view of the Bosphorus and the city. I can’t imagine how beautiful it could be watching the sun lower itself in the city with its orange and blue skies especially in summer when the weather permits dining al fresco.
Vogue is not just a place with a view. It has been around for twenty years giving what it gives best to its diners – exceptional food and wine. It never lost its enchanting characteristics to anyone especially the locals because every time I tell my Turkish friends that I dined at Vogue, they give me a knowing nod and approval. Of course, it is one of the best in the city
Arriving at the restaurant straight from the airport with my luggage (which the receptionist relieved me from immediately), the service didn’t waver from its attentiveness at all until I left. Being in one of the best restaurants of the city, I couldn’t pass up the Vogue Tasting Menu of five courses. I always believe that the tasting menus of the chefs hold the strength of their talent in the kitchen. The whole tasting menu was accompanied by a very beautiful wine, a bottle of Pinot Gris of Arcadia Winery from the Northern Thrace of Turkey (which I was able to visit a couple of years ago in a press tour). While the wine itself is highly commendable, dining with its maker herself, Zeynep Arca, made it even more special.
Celery root with Apricots, Stuffed Zucchini Blossom, Mashed Carrots with Yogurt. It was a beautiful opening to my first Turkish meal after two years. The combination of fruit, vegetables and yogurt prompted a lovely freshness to the taste buds.
Meat Stuffed Chard Leaves, Sumac Sauce, Buffalo Yogurt. The flavors identify determinedly with the Turkish cuisine with a delectable flare. I loved this one for the beautiful flavors that it depicts.
Sole Fish on Skewer, Mashed Potatoes with Saffron, Sea Asparagus-Olive Salad. Mediterranean dish with a Turkish stamp on it. Saffron is important in the local cuisine and in this dish, it gave a delicious spike of flavor to the overall dish.
Roasted Lamb, Hummus with Honeyed Almonds. An amazing meat dish. The lamb was very tender and flavorful, Mixing it with honeyed almonds made it more exotic to the mouth. I loved this dish and would have finished my plate clean if not for the big servings of each course that filled me up completely.
Next, Ravioli with Artichokes. I could describe this to you better but I already forgot the name. This is not a part of the tasting menu, as it was a replacement for the lamb dish for my friend who preferred not to eat the meat dish. I do remember the delicacy of the artichokes inside the ravioli.
For dessert, Coconut Pudding, Fresh Berries, Blueberry Sauce. With the splashes of purple and accents of green, orange and red, this dish was a spectacle to the eyes. Beautifully composed with so many vibrant colors. A refreshing rendition of coconut that makes you look forward to the warmer months ahead.
Akaretler Spor Caddessi 92 BJK Plaza A Blok 13
Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 2122274404
Open: Mondays to Saturdays: 12:00 to 2:00 / Sundays: 10:00 to 2:00
Rowena Dumlao - Giardina is the author and photographer of Apron and Sneakers and The Chosen Table. Besides her blog, she's also a recipe developer and a travel writer for other food and travel sites.