Saturday, January 14, 2012

BAYLO: New "Kid" on the block in Şişhane!

Dear readers,

What a day it is in Istanbul today! The day started with rain, but it has been snowing quite a bit for the last couple of hours and it does look beautiful! Thank God that although it is snowing heavily... it's not sticking to the ground. I'm saying this because even though I love snow - not in the city! It's great in the mountains, but the city turns into a mess and since Istanbul is built on 7 hills - take my word for it if you don't live here, it's not easy manuevuring around a city with lots of narrow and hilly streets!

So, it's a great day to stay in - except I did have to go out in the morning and in the snow to walk my lovely Luka - who is 15 months old and the cutest Maltese Terrier (in my eyes anyway)... once again, here's a small plug for my lovely pup... if you want to "meet" him, visit him on his blog at! His blog is fairly new with not many articles, but that will change soon hopefully!

Typical to the month of January, it is quite cold about 2-3 centigrades now and it has been around 8-9 centigrades for the last week or so and almost rainy everyday!

Exactly one week ago today (Saturday), I headed to one of my favorite neighborhoods - Şişhane - to have dinner with Yazgülü Aldoğan, the author of the romance novel I translated from Turkish to English to celebrate its completion at the end of 2011! Yazgülü is also a journalist and has a column at Posta Newspaper and I met her on a press trip to Ankara over 5 years ago and we have remained friends ever since!

At my suggestion... we decided to try a new place called Baylo on Meşrutiyet Street and since Yazgülü lives nearby, she readily accepted.

Meşrutiyet Street is a long stretch that runs from Şişhane on one side to Tepebaşı on the other (a little more than 10-12 blocks). The street and its surroundings have gone through a major transformation in the last couple of years and some of the nicest restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs are situated along this street with a museum, cultural center and culinary school/restaurant thrown in for good measure!

Especially the part of the street after Pera Palace (the hotel hadn't even reopened yet after going through a renovation) heading towards Şişhane was no man's land! I remember going to a restaurant called Pera Thai about 7-8 years (and it's still around and as you probably guessed - very good Thai cuisine!) ago and was scared to walk down the street! I'm not kidding when I say there was NOTHING but old unrestored buildings left to decay! I couldn't understand why a restaurant had opened in such a deserted area - I guess they were much more insightful than me!

Pera Thai
Anyway, once again I have started to ramble, so let's get back to Baylo!

Baylo "outdoor" section
Baylo opened about a couple of months ago and is located under a new boutique hotel that will be opening shortly (sorry don't know the name!) on a corner with Good Mood (check my post on Good Mood which I prepared in October 2011) on one corner and the other very popular Bird (will be writing about this place another time) just a couple of doors down in the other direction.

Like the other 2 places I mentioned above, Baylo is also quite compact with a small area in the front (with about seating for 10-12 people) for smokers (with heaters) and a narrow homey interior with a long bar (can eat at the bar) and a few tables for diners. I had read about Baylo in an article prepared by a journalist and from word of mouth too and wanted to see the place for myself.

So, I called a couple of days in advance to make a reservation for two. I was fortunate that I was able to get one because we planned on having dinner at 7:00pm so they were able to accommodate us. So, I highly suggest you make your reservations a few days in advance if planning to have dinner (not open for lunch).

I arrived a little earlier than Yazgülü and ordered a dry votka martini while I waited for her to arrive on a rainy, yet mild Saturday night...

dry votka martini @ Baylo
I also asked to see the menu to get an idea of what their offerings were. The menu is quite simple with 6 starters and 6 main courses.

Since the "concept" of Baylo is more of a bar versus a restaurant, the selections are limited, but quite adequate.

The starters include a Cheese Plate (brie, gouda, goat cheese, roquefort, parmesan cheese and gruyere cheese from Kars); Cold Deli Meats Plate (bresola, proscuitto, ham, smoked beef and Italian Salami); Mixed Plate (cheese and deli meats), Smoked Fish Plate; Carprese Salad (Mozzarella and tomato) and Smoked Salmon Sandwich. Prices range from 20 to 45 TL and most can easily be shared.

Main courses include: Pork Sausage; Super Hamburger; Chicken Schnitzel; Homemade Tagliata with slices of tenderloin of beef; Veal Chop and Entrecote and prices range from 30 to 80 TL. The Veal Chop costs the most because the portion is 600 gr (a little over one pound)!

We skipped on a starter and went directly for the main courses and ordered the Chicken Schnitzel and Super Hamburger...

Chicken Snitzel w/potato salad and mixed greens
Super hamburger w/homemade chips & mixed greens
We each enjoyed our selections (30 TL/each), but a a few notes on the hamburger which I had... the homemade chips were delicious! They were cut a little thicker than normal and hadn't soaked up any oil. The hamburger served on a homemade bun was very good too, but spicy! I thoroughly enjoyed it because I like spicy food, but the menu didn't state that it was going to be spicy and I informed the waiter afterwards that this info should be added to the menu - not everyone likes spicy food and the burger was like a 3 alarm fire!

When we arrived at Baylo, it was kind of empty... but by the time we left at 10:15pm, it was packed inside and out with revelers spilling out onto the rainy and wet street!

Me (left), Yazgülü Aldoğan (right)
Baylo is a nice new edition to Meşrutiyet Street in Şişhane... the music is good and at least it wasn't "blasting" from the speakers when we left (don't know what happens at a later time), the food and service is good and efficient... and the crowd is the 30+ age group. Would I go again? Sure, but once again at an early hour for some good food and cheer and leave before it turns into a full blown out bar...If you prefer the bar scene, then go after 10:00pm!  

Baylo Restaurant
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 107a
Tel: (0212) 243 60 18

Note: I'm always curious about the names of venues and how they got there name. Baylo also spelled Bailo was a name given to a diplomat who oversaw the affairs of the Venetians in Constantinople (one of Istanbul's previous names) and was a permanent fixture in the city around 1454.

No comments:

Post a Comment