Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Şişhane: A night of wining & dining...

Dear readers,

Just like my darling little Maltese terrier Luka, my social life has gone down the  tubes in the last few weeks! He wrote about this in his latest post on his blog... http://lollifeofluka.blogspot.com so I won't repeat what he wrote (you can always visit him separately)... but I - versus - Luka have a very big repertoire of subjects that I can write about as I have been around a whole lot longer than him!

So... I dung into my subject pool and decided to write about Şişhane and a portion of Meşrutiyet Caddesi (Street).

Şişhane Metro station @ Meşrutiyet Street
Şişhane is a district in the municipality of Beyoğlu and right below Tünel (at the end of Istiklal Street in Beyoğlu) and Asmalımescit (another hip area for partying - even though most of the outdoor seating areas have been removed) and also a short 10 minute walk from Galata.

Up until a couple of years ago, Şişhane was an area you may have just "passed through" on your way somewhere else! You wouldn't even think of walking down Meşrutiyet Street from the Şişhane side towards the more popular area of Tepebaşı.

The dilapated and rundown neighborhood went through a major metamorphosis and is now full of charming boutique hotels, cafes, restaurant/bars and several retailers.

Like I said, Meşrutiyet Street (Caddesi) runs from Şişhane to Tepebaşı and is probably about 10 city blocks long... and about 5 blocks of it is part of Şişhane.

Even though all of Şişhane is not on just one street, for the purposes of this post, I will only write about this street, because there are soooo many places to mention. I will write about other parts of Şişhane in another post at a later date (don't know when though!).

So, we will start our tour of Meşrutiyet Caddesi by the Metro station in Şişhane and end at the Pera Palace Hotel. Like I said, there is so much to do and see in just a 5 city block area that attracts people from all walks of life and age groups. Also, I will only be mentioning the eating and drinking venues and leave out the hotels... except for the historic Pera Palace Hotel at the end!

Our first stop and right next to the metro station is Miss Pizza (www.misspizza.com.tr).

Miss Pizza @ Şişhane
Miss Pizza opened their first branch in Cihangir several years ago: this branch opened in 2010. This quaint and charming little "pizzeria" has indoor and outdoor seating areas with an open brick oven. I visited Miss Pizza a couple of times this past summer, but still haven't had a chance to try their pizza which is said to be very good. I was only their briefly before an appointment both times and only had something light - an avocado caprese (mozzarella cheese, avocado, cherry tomatoes, black olive paste and basil) which I thought was great and refreshing. The prices are modest and the menu includes antipasta, salads, pizza and desserts. Alcohol is served.

Right next door... on the same side of the street is newcomer Spoil (www.spoil.com.tr). 

Spoil is a restaurant/bar and opened this past summer. The spacious venue has high ceilings, brick walls, minimalistic decor, a nice sized bar and a menu consisting of specialties from International cuisine. Spoil is open from noon to 2:00am on weekdays and on the weekends until 4:00am, so after dinner, it turns into a bar/club with DJ performances. I haven't had a chance to visit Spoil yet, but I do know the owners and they do have a good reputation on the culinary scene, so I have no doubt that the food is good.

As you can see from the picture above, because of the smoking ban in Turkey, come "rain or shine" you will notice customers lined outside of the venues for a smoke! Sometimes, the "main" party is outside!

If you are in the mood for some Chinese food on your night out... you can stop by Chinese Express (www.chineseexpress.com.tr) which is right across the street from Spoil. I haven't eaten here, but I have ordered take out many times from the Chinese Express branch in Ortaköy, so I know the food is good!

About 1/2 block up the street from Chinese Express and on the corner is newcomer Good Mood (www.goodmood.com.tr).

I went to Good Mood during the first week of October with a bunch of girlfriends to celebrate a friend's birthday. Good Mood is quite small with several tables in the front and several small tables paralel to their bar. The menu includes international fare and we enjoyed the Bruschetta Trio the most. But, to be quite honest, they have to work on the quality of their main courses.

Bruschetta Trio @ Good Mood
However, Good Mood makes good cocktails! I personally had a couple of votka martinis which were very good, while most of my friends had red wine. And.. the music is EXCELLENT! There are DJ performances nightly (closed on Sundays) and the venue is open until 4:00am.

Votka Martini @ Good Mood
Our next stop is right across the street from Good Mood - Da Vittorio (www.davittorioistanbul.com).

Da Vittorio
Located at the entrance of the Ansen Suites hotel... you guessed it... Da Vittorio is an Italian restaurant! Vittorio Sindonini - owner & chef is someone I know for over 15 years! He is originally from Palermo, Sicily and lived in NYC for many years, but I met him when he was part of the opening team and manager of Papermoon in Istanbul in 1996. We have kept in touch over the years - he left Istanbul for a few years, but a major Istanbul lover, he returned several years ago and opened his own eatery about 2 years ago.

The modestly sized restaurant has two separate rooms and is very cozy. The modest sized menu includes a good selection of specialties... my personal favorite is the "Classic Eggplant Parmiagiana" - a dish not commonly found on the menus of Italian restaurants in Istanbul. Da Vittorio is open daily from noon to midnight - prices are modest to expensive... reservations are recommended.

The next stop on our tour and about one block from Good Mood and on the same side of the street is my personal favorite - Bird (www.birdistanbul.com)

Bird (photo from their website)
Bird is celebrating its second season and this highly popular restaurant and bar is probably the hottest spot in town and nearly impossible to get a reservation unless you make it days in advance! The venue is small... the food is excellent... the prices are modest... great cocktails are prepared... the wine list is impressive...the music is great... the crowd is chi chi... what else can I say?

We now continue our walk up the street, and once we pass several hotels, our next stop is North Shield Pub (www.thenorthshieldbar.com) located on a corner, adjacent to the Pera Palace Hotel.

Just as its name suggest, The North Shield is reminiscent of a typical English Pub right down to the decor (brass, mahogony, etc.) and menu! Beer lovers are also in for a treat as the selection is quite impressive! There are many branches of The North Shield throughout Istanbul and this branch opened last year.

A few steps from The North Shield is another newcomer called Meze by Lemon Tree (www.mezze.com.tr).

Meze by Lemon Tree (from Meze website)

Meze... which means appetizers or small dishes.. or tapas is an appropriate name for this quaint and small eatery! Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to try the tempting and tantalizing dishes, but so many of my friends have! I hope to stop by on my next visit to the neighborhood.

We end our tour of the 5 blocks of Meşrutiyet Caddesi with a small stop over at the historic Pera Palace Hotel, which was totally renovated and re-opened in 2010 (www.perapalace.com).

Pera Palace Hotel

The Pera Palace Hotel opened in 1892 and has a very long and illustrious history that I suggest you visit their website for all the details. For your dining pleasure, you can go to Agatha Restaurant... for cocktails to Orient Bar or for pastry to Patisserie de Pera.

This ends our tour of a portion of Meşrutiyet Caddesi... covering only most of the venues between Şişhane and the Pera Palace Hotel...

I hope you enjoyed the journey!


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