Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1. Levent - Part 2/KANYON...

Dear readers,

I am REALLY bummed out that I am still fighting off this cold that just does not want to leave my body!!!! This is the first time I have gotten a cold like this in years and a summer cold at that! I feel lethargic... have no energy to do anything... and I have a major project that I MUST finish by August 29th and haven't been able to touch it since I got sick on August 6th!  It is even difficult for me to write this, but I am trying to motivate myself and get out of this rut!

I did go out for a while yesterday though - the 3rd time in over 10 days! I did feel better when I woke up yesterday and I had to visit a client to sign some papers in Levent - so I decided to make a detour to one of my favorite places where I can aimlessly walk around, do some window shopping... get something to eat and enjoy the good weather!

I am talking about Kanyon (www.kanyon.com.tr) - an open air shopping mall in Levent - steps from the client I was going to visit and a few blocks up from Metrocity which I mentioned in my previous article.

I have been a "regular" at Kanyon ever since it opened in June 2006. In fact, I visited the complex while it was still under construction and met with then GM Markus Letho to get info on Kanyon for The Guide Istanbul. It was an imposing project then and walking through the construction site, knew it would be compelling when it opened.

As my office was right next door to Kanyon, while I was still at The Guide Istanbul, I would go to Kanyon at least 2-3 times a week for lunch. Then, I used to enter from the main entrance on Büyükdere Street (see above).  Just to digress for a second... if you haven't visited www.theguideistanbul.com yet... I suggest you do! You will get lots of info on Istanbul and most of the older articles posted were prepared by me!

As I have been freelancing since January 2011, I do not get a chance to go to Kanyon as often, but I do have a tendency to stop by at least once a week! Like I said in my previous article... I do not look at Kanyon as just a shopping mall - rather as a "lifestyle" and do like to go and just walk around and grab a bite to eat.

As I am now coming from the opposite direction and have to cross the street, I prefer using the metro entrance across the street. Yes, Kanyon has direct access to the metro, which is great too.

Entering from this point, I enter Kanyon on the ground level (B2 level) of the 4-story shopping mall. From the Büyükdere Street entrance you will be on the main level or "G" level. The other entrance is on a side street (can't remember the name of the street) off of Büyükdere Street where you also enter on the B2 level but on the opposite side from the metro entrance.

Just like with anything else - even though I have been a regular customer for the past 5 years, I seem to only visit my "favorite" places and generally do not "explore" to find new places... I guess I am set in my ways - in a way! Also, at this point in my life - I know what I like and don't, so don't waste too much time with unnecessary details! So, since this article is not an "ad" for Kanyon, I will only mention my preferred haunts and will leave the rest for you to discover as Kanyon has 160 shops, restaurants, cafes, health club and movie theatre! Also, from time to time, special events to include musical concerts, wine tastings, etc are organized (check their website for details). Kanyon is open daily from 10:00am to 10:00pm, but some restaurants and cafes as well as the movie theatre stay open past 10:00pm.

When I enter Kanyon from the metro entrance, on the left hand side is Teknosa, an electronic store I visit often and where I purchased my pc and now stop by to pick up accessories from time to time.

On the right hand side of the entrance is my favorite place to eat at Kanyon - Kitchenette (www.kitchenette.com.tr). I have written about this eatery before, but just to summarize again, there are many branches of Kitchenette throughout Istanbul (as well as other cities in Turkey and in Russia and Azerbaijan - and in London in 2012). Of the ones I visited (Ortaköy, Bebek, Taksim), this is my favorite. Why? I like the service, the waitstaff and managers are friendly and efficient... and the chef at this branch is really good!

Kitchenette is part of the Istanbul Doors Group (www.istanbuldoors.com) and I suggest you visit their website to see all the wonderful restaurants they manage in Istanbul. On this particular day, I ran into Levent Büyükuğur and Berk Ekşioğlu, 2 of the masterminds behind this highly popular group and who were also having lunch at Kitchenette. Knowing them for years, we chatted for awhile and I congratulated them on their latest venture - Carlotta, which just opened in Maslak with more branches to come shortly. Also, Levent informed me that another branch of Kitchenette will be opening in Etiler - right next door to Starbucks shortly.

Between going to Çeşme and getting sick, I hadn't been to Kitchenette in about a month and the first thing I noticed were the new chairs. Previously, they were dark green and now they are a lovely burgundy color. I was also cheerfully greeted by the waiters and manager and was asked "where have I been?"

This place is great for a casual lunch, early dinner or just drinks and I have done all with friends! The menu is quite extensive, the prices moderate to high (if ordering fish) and include everything from breakfast treats, apps, salads to burgers, pizza, pasta, mains and dessert with daily specials (soup and main course) and a "lean" meals corner. Today, I was alone and preferred the grilled skewered salmon served with a side of spinach salad and rice.

Some of my other recommendations from the menu are: any of the grilled salmon main courses or grilled salmon salad; Kitchenette Tost (slices of tenderloin of beef, cheese and spinach served on toasted grain bread); Eggs Norwegian; Grilled seabass and Köfte (Turkish style meatballs). I prefer to eat healthy, so my selections are accordingly - but I do hear that the "bestseller" at Kitchenette is the Veal Schnitzel.. and the burgers always look good too!

One final note on Kitchenette... the indoor section is decorated to resemble a typical French bistro... and, the breads and pastries are homemade and delicious!

After my healthy and lovely lunch - topped off with a double macchiato.. I headed towards Macrocenter... window shopping along the way.

If I need to buy glassware or other knick knacks for my kitchen... I always like to visit Paşabahçe (www.pasabahcemagazalari.com). You can find all sorts of glasses, vases, etc. in all sorts of price ranges and some famous Turkish designers have also designed special glassware for Paşabahçe as well.

Right around the corner from Paşabahçe is Macrocenter - a "high class" supermarket where you can find all sorts of gourmet items and international brands side by side with the daily staples.

After making my purchases, I headed back towards the direction of Kitchenette to go upstairs. Along the way, are several of my other haunts... Remzi Kitabevi - a bookstore with a very good selection of English language books; Karınca - I love to buy gifts for friends and family from here - their products are from France and they are all fun stuff (from funky corkscrews, ashtrays, mouses and pens to well you name it!) and Yargıcı Accessories... their window display showed that they are ready for the fall season... I love the selection of scarves at Yargıcı and always buy several during each season!

I then took the escalator up to the B1 Level (if in a hurry, you can also take the elevators to the floors you want to go to) and stopped by the ATM to withdraw money. Most of the ATMs are side by side on this floor.

Then I went up to the G Level and another one of my haunts - Le Pain Quotidien (www.lepainquotidien.com) greets you as you descend from the escalator. I do like this eatery - the food served is very good and healthy - you can also purchase their breads, pastries, sea salt, cracked black pepper, spreads, etc. to take home... but the service is soooo slow that it drives me crazy from time to time!

My next and final stop is the L level... this is basically the "food court" level with all sorts of restaurants and cafes lined up side by side - offering everything from fine dining to fast food - and from Turkish, Italian and International fare to Chinese, Japanese and  Thai.

My favs here are Gina (also owned by the Istanbul Doors Group!) and Mezzaluna Express (www.mezzalunaexpress.com.tr) Both are Italian restaurants and are on opposite ends of the floor. Gina is more of a "fine dining establishment - preferred for business lunches and by the glitterati. Always a good idea to make a reservation and it is expensive. On the other hand, Mezzaluna Express is a casual Italian eatery and the reason it is "express" is that the menu is limited compared to the other Mezzaluna restaurants around the city. My choice here is the pizza prepared with tomato sauce and ricotta cheese -  yum! I do stay away from the tiramisu - but I hear it's great!

One of the owners of Mezzaluna Express is Kerem Suner (his partner Aret is now doing his military service). I met Kerem almost 10 years ago at another eatery where he was a manager and have kept in touch one way or the other through the years. He happened to be at Mezzaluna when I passed by so I stopped by and had an espresso with him and a lawyer friend of his that I had met at Mezzaluna last year. That's the other part of Kanyon I love - I always run into someone I know!

Before my stop by Mezzaluna, I also stopped by D&R (www.dr.com.tr). They do have english language books, but do not display them for easy access, so I usually only buy magazines, DVDs and CDs from D&R.

My final fav spot at Kanyon is also on this floor - Cinebonus Movie Theater(www.cinebonus.com.tr) When I get a chance to go to the movies, this is the place I prefer! There are 9 screening rooms, the seating is very comfortable and at intermission... you can take a walk outside!

Finally, besides the mall, there is an office tower and deluxe residence complexes at Kanyon too.

After several hours of eating, shopping and seeing friends at Kanyon, I left to visit my client and then headed on home. It was a nice day!!!!


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