I think I have been on Facebook tooooo long! When I decided to do a review of Baylan Restaurant, for some reason, the 3 major icons on FB popped into my head - go figure!
Some of you might already be familiar with the "Baylan" brand and might be surprised that I said "restaurant" instead of "pastry shop", but surprise... surprise, Baylan is now also in the dining business!
Opened only a month and a half ago, Baylan Restaurant & Bar is located right next door to their pastry shop in Bebek, which opened in 2010.
|Baylan Pastry Shop|
|Entrance to Baylan Restaurant & Bar|
For those familiar with the area, Baylan Restaurant is located at the "old" Gloria Jeans Coffee branch and as it is so new, their PR efforts are at a minimum. I happened to read an article in one of the Turkish newspapers (can't remember which one) over this past weekend - that's how I found out that it had opened.
Last week, I had made plans to go out to dinner with two of my subordinates Seray Ulucan Kanberoğlu (Advertising Manager) and Hande Vatandost (she has since departed from the Guide) from my days at The Guide Istanbul. As we nearly worked together for 10 years and 7 years respectively, we have remained friends. Even though all of us have crazy schedules, we do attempt to get together from time to time to catch up and decided to have dinner together on Thursday night this week.
Of course, as I was the General Manager & Editor-in-Chief of The Guide Magazines, they left it up to me to decide where to go, but with one stipulation - it should be around the Levent, Etiler, or Bebek neighborhoods as they both work in Levent and Etiler and I live in Levent! We didn't want to be wasting time sitting in traffic to go to another part of the city.
After a few days of deliberating where we could go... I remembered the article I had read and suggested Baylan Restaurant.
Our dinner reservations were for 7:00pm and I got to the neighborhood early - around 6:00pm and first stopped by Lucca (my second home!) for a glass of wine before heading over to Baylan. I've already written about Lucca in other posts (and will continue to do so!), so you can visit those posts for more details.
I got to Baylan at around 6:50pm... I have this habit of always showing up early, as I hate to be late.
As you enter the 3-story restaurant & bar, the main level has a seating area where you can enjoy pastries, snacks or beverages or purchase cakes, chocolates and the glassware (wine, water and tea glasses) they imported from France and use in the restaurant.
|Confectionary & Glassware display|
I was then directed to the main dining room - one floor below...
As I walked down the stairs and saw the dining room, I thought "wow, what a lovely room!". I liked the warm earth tones, the wood panelled walls, comfy atmosphere, soft lighting and comfortable seating! Also, the ceiling can be opened or closed according to the weather!
As I was waiting for the girls to arrive, I asked to see the wine list and menu. My biggest WOW was for the wine menu!!! I couldn't believe the prices - in a positive way! Not only had they prepared a very nice menu with selections from Turkey and around the world... they had some of my favorites and at astoundingly low prices compared to other restaurants around town. For example, the wine we had - Hill & Dale Pinotage was only 75 TL/bottle! They also have Turkish and foreign wines by the glass - for only 14 to 16 TL! I was in heaven to say the least. I definitely liked the wine list.
Just then, the girls came and after our greetings and our wine was poured and bread served (I liked the selection of rolls which included all grain, plain and tomato flavored, etc.), we started reviewing the menu.
Baylan has a young and talented Turkish chef who was inspired by and attended culinary courses offered by Alain Ducasse and this was evident in his menu.
The menu is currently not every extensive and new items will be added in the future, but I did like what I saw and the prices were moderate to expense. As we were not very hungry, we decided to share an appetizer - Vol-au-Vent (pastry stuffed with asparagus, crayfish, etc.) and we were also "comped" an appetizer - (sorry I can't remember the name), served in a marble dish that had shredded chicken breast on the bottom and topped with pieces of bread. You can either dung the bread in the chicken or scoop it out.
We definitely liked the vol-au-vent (30 TL) and the other appetizer was good too, but the bread could have been crispier.
For a main course, Hande and I ordered another appetizer - roasted red bell peppers stuffed with minced meat flavored with cilantro and cinammon (18 TL). Seray was already too full to order anything else... that's why she is so thin and I'm not!!!
|Roasted red bell peppers stuffed with minced meat|
Even though we hadn't eaten alot, we passed on ordering dessert. I know this is a big mistake at Baylan as they are known for their delectable desserts, but we said another time! Instead, we ended our enjoyable evening with a cup of Turkish coffee (and some fortune telling)!
|Hande Vatandost, Seray Ulucan Kanberoğlu, Vildan Yahni (left to right)|
After our goodbyes, I stayed so that I could see the top floor of Baylan...
I definitely liked the bar too! Here you can enjoy cocktails at the bar or at the tables in the indoor as well as the outdoor (heated) terrace - affording a lovely lovely view of the Bosphorus. You can also dine here too and the bar menu includes sandwiches, salads, etc., but if you'd like, you can also order from the dinner menu.
- the service is very efficient and the wait staff are very knowledgeable and friendly.
- visit Baylan Restaurant if you want to enjoy a lovely meal in a casual, yet elegant surroundings.
- The music does not "overpower" your conversations in the main dining room! You can actually hear each other talk without having to speak loudly!
- Baylan is a good place for a business or casual dinner.
If you go to Baylan Restaurant & Bar and agree with my comments, make sure to share with your friends too!
Baylan Restaurant & Cafe
Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No. 52-54 Bebek
Tel: (0212) 358 07 60
www.baylangida.com.tr (in Turkish only)
Baylan "in brief"...
Filip Lenas immigrated from Albania to Istanbul in 1919 and learned the art of pastry making from M. Moulatier and opened Baylan - then called "Loryan" in Beyoğlu in 1923. He opened his 2nd branch in Karaköy in 1925 and the name of the pastry shop was renamed Baylan in 1934. He opened his chocolate factory in Karaköy in 1939. In 1952, his eldest son Henry Lenas went to Europe to study pastry making. In 1953, the chocolate factory was moved to Gayrettepe. In 1954, Henry Lenas returned to Istanbul and opened Istanbul's first döner (similar to gyro) and pastry kiosk. In 1961, Baylan opened a branch in Kadıköy on the Asian side of the city. In 1967, Baylan closed their branch in Beyoğlu and their branch in Karaköy in 1992. In 2009, the Altınkılıç family (Altınmarka - purveyors of chocolae) purchased the Baylan brand. In 2010, Baylan opens a branch in Bebek and renovates the Kadıköy branch. In September 2011, Baylan Restaurant & Bar opened.