Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nişantaşı (Beymen) Brasserie & Biber Bar: Abdi Ipekçi Street/Nişantaşı "Classics"!

Dear readers,

I had promised you a couple of posts back that at the beginning of 2012 I would "catch-up" on articles I was unable to post because of my crazy schedule in December! I'm almost done and this is the last one on the "eating and drinking" front - then I will be preparing articles on the Grand Bazaar and What's "Up" in Istanbul/Part 3 and then I will once again be current and hope to remain that way. In fact, tonight I am visiting another new eatery and will be giving you info on this new and hip spot in Asmalımescit in a few short days - hopefully!

In a way I'm happy that I have some time off from "real" work so that I can devote some time to my blogs... also, I just posted a new one to Luka's blog yesterday. Luka is my Maltese Terrier and he has things to share with you too but from his perspective. If interested to see what he has to say, please visit Now, if I don't give him a plug - he'll get very angry at me!

I've said this before, but I'll say it again, because there are undoubtedly first time visitors to my blog... Nişantaşı is by far one of the hippest and trendiest neighborhoods in Istanbul!

The most popular street in the Nişantaşı-Teşvikiye-Maçka triangle is no doubt Abdi Ipekçi Street. The street is about 6-7 city blocks long and it is home to some of the major top Turkish and International brands to include Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, Chanel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Escada, Marina Rinaldı, Patrizia Pepe, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Godiva, Marks & Spencer, Vakko, Beymen, etc.  Additionally, in the last few years, it has also become home to a vast number of eateries - from the modest to the expensive. Throw in a smathering of other shops (cosmetics, home accessories, leather goods, etc.) and Abdi Ipekçi Street is one of the most vibrant streets in town!

In my humble opinion, Nişantaşı Brasserie (also called Beymen Brasserie as it is at the entrance of the Beymen Department Store) is the "queen" of the street for culinary delights!

The brasserie/cafe/bar opened in 2004 and hasn't looked back! It might sound like a cliché, but I have been a customer since its opening! First, it was my job to keep up to date with the newest openings in town because of my job as the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of The Guide Istanbul (from 2001-2010), but then I just continued visiting regularly because I enjoyed the food, service and ambiance!

One of the main reasons behind the success of Nişantaşı Brasserie is its successful owner Metin Fadıllıoğlu. Mr. Fadıllıoğlu is a prominent name on the culinary and nightlife scene in Istanbul for over 35 years and is also the owner of Ulus 29, a fine dining restaurant (open since 1993) on a hilltop in Ulus overlooking the Bosphorus and Asian shoreline. His bio is quite long, but suffice to say, he has been part of many other popular venues around town in the past too.

Recently - on November 30th - I attended a party at Nişantaşı Brasserie to celebrate what I guess we can call their "face lift"!

Nişantaşı Brasserie Party (November 30, 2010)
When you're around that long, it does become necessary to make changes. And, that's what the popular eatery did!

So, what changed? Some minor changes were made to the indoor decor, but most importantly, the menu was expanded!

Until a couple of months ago, the menu only included French and International treats, but now sushi/sashimi, pizza and pasta have been added to the menu along with some additional items to their otherwise extensive menu.

Sushi @ Nişantaşı Brasserie
We had a chance to taste the sushi selections at the party and they were excellent considering it was very crowded and let me tell you, it's not easy to serve plate after plate of sushi at these types of parties!

The party was a resounding success - I attended the party with my best friend Nur, sis Meltem and brother-in-law Ibrahim and we ran into lots of our friends too! In fact, the very next night, I went to dinner at Nişantaşı Brasserie with my good friend Bennu and had a great time!

As I dubbed Nişantaşı Brasserie the "queen" of Abdi Ipekçi Street, then the "princess" of the eatery is Ayşegül Perksoy!

Ayşe Perksoy - Manager/Nişantaşı Brasserie
I met Ayşegül when the eatery first opened and she was then the assistant manager. After a few years, she left - moved to the USA for a while - then returned to Turkey - was at Ulus 29 and then this past summer at Ulus 29's summertime only venue in Göltürkbükü, Bodrum and now she is back at Nişantaşı Brasserie. She is wonderful with the customers and treats everyone the same - whether you are a regular or first time visitor! Some of the staff at Nişantaşı Brasserie has also changed and they are all friendly and efficient.

So, I highly recommend that you visit Nişantaşı Brasserie on your next trip to Istanbul. And, if as a resident, you haven't had a chance to go yet, plan to go during the day or night - you will have a good time and enjoy good food and drink!

Now... I would like to give you some more general info on NB before going on to my next venue.

Nişantaşı Brasserie is located at the entrance to the Beymen Department Store which is on the corner of Abdi Ipekçi Street in Nişantaşı square and adjacent to my favorite store - Louis Vuitton!

Beymen Department Store
Nişantaşı Brasserie has indoor and outdoor dining areas which are open year round with heaters outdoors, so if you're a smoker, you're in luck!

You can go to the eatery for just a cup of coffee, breakfast, snacks, lunch, drinks, dinner... it's up to you.

The prices aren't exactly cheap, but they're not unreachable either! It just depends on what you eat and drink...

But just to give you an idea.. breakfast treats (omelets are very good) range from 14-18 TL; Snacks (spicy chicken wings, tacos, etc.) 22-38 TL; sandwiches (Croque Monsieur/Madam, Club Sandwich, Tuna fish, etc.) 21-25 TL; Starters (French Onion Soup, etc.) 18-58 TL; Salads (Goat cheese with red beets, Chicken Caesar, Duck Salad, etc.) 28-44 TL; Specials (escargot, steak tartare) 28-40 TL; Pasta/Risotto (penne, tortellini, etc.) 18-29 TL; Pizza (4 kinds) 24-34 TL; Fish (salmon, sea bass, jumbo shrimp) 40-52 TL; Main courses (Duck, Lamb Shank, Dry Aged Steaks, etc.) 30-60 TL; Sushi/Sashimi - 9-46 TL; Wines by the glass (Turkish and International) 14-20 TL; classic cocktails 25 TL, special cocktails 27 TL; Beer (domestic and international) 15-20 TL; coffee/tea 6-20 TL; soft drinks 3-15 TL; and desserts which also include a section with "sugar free" delights! 17-18 TL.

So, as you can see the prices aren't outrageous and once again, depends on what you select to eat and/or drink!

Nişantaşı Brasserie is open daily from 10:00am to midnight. It's a good idea to make reservations for lunch or dinner. (Abdi Ipekçi Caddesi No. 23/1 Nişantaşı; Tel: (0212) 343 04 43-44.


The second "classic" venue on my list is Biber Bar! Biber means pepper in Turkish and their logo is that of a pepper, but with a cocktail in his hand!

Biber Bar "re-opened" several years ago at No. 36 on Abdi Ipekçi Street. But, Biber was "the" most popular bar in town in the late 1990s! At that time it was located a few doors down on the same street, but it was half the size of what it is now. Once again, just like at Nişantaşı Brasserie, I have been a long time regular at Biber and went there for the first time in 1996! I'm not kidding when I say we used to go with my friends at least 3-4 times a week! They would open at around 6:00pm and the crowd would die out by the latest 9:00-10:00pm. From there, we would head over to Mezzaluna (a couple of doors down) or to Papermoon for dinner and from their to Şamdan for dancing till the morning! Ahhh! Those were the days! But, I can no longer do that now as I'm 16 years older, but more importantly there are so so many more places to go to compared to then! It was a wonderful time... everyone knew each other or made some friendships there (some of who I still keep in touch with till today!) and we used to travel in flocks from one venue to the other!

When Emre Ergani decided to re-open Biber, he not only got the old-timers together, but a totally new generation, expats and visitors to Istanbul also discovered Biber Bar! A few words on Emre... if I'm not mistaken, Biber was the first place he owned (he had a partner). Through the years, he became a big name in the nightlife scene and is the owner of Blackk nightclub in Kuruçeşme, Bianca Beach in Bodrum and also manages the venues at W Lounge. I probably left out something because he is involved in so many places! He's only in his early 40s, so he started out in this business very young!

The elegantly decorated "new" Biber has a very long elgant bar in the indoor section with comfortable seating and a separate terrace (where smoking is permitted as the windows are kept open - there are heaters on the walls)...

Biber Bar
Biber Bar terrace
Also, as of this year and the new configuration on Abdi Ipekçi Street, Biber has a nice sized outdoor seating area right on the street.

I don't go to Biber Bar as regularly as I used to, but I make it a point to visit at least several times when it's open from October - May. The bar closes for the summer when they "move" to Alaçatı in Çeşme for the summer season.

The last time I was there was on December 6th... again with my best friend Nur, sis Meltem and brother-in-law Ibrahim. We opted to order a bottle of red wine, but obviously there is a very extensive cocktail menu...

Biber Bar
The wine list is not up to my standards, but this is a problem in a majority of the venues around town as I mentioned earlier. However, this is a bar and the majority of the customers prefer drinking cocktails or beer, so I can't complain!

With your drinks, you are served mix nuts, a plate full of pickles and green olives (talk about getting thirsty!) and throughout the evening, some finger foods are served gratis...

Biber Bar also has a very extensive snack menu - everything from burgers and wraps to other bar snacks are available. We orderered duck and beef wraps and they were delicious! However, the French Fries were a little too salty for my taste, but then again, I don't like salt much, so I might not be the best judge on this matter!

Duck & Beef wraps at Biber Bar
Biber Bar is a great place to go before or after dinner ... it is open daily from around 6:00pm until 2:00am. The music played is great (not so loud that you can't hear each other talk) - no techno here! The service is efficient and the prices medium to high.

Don't be surprised if you see some of the same people from Nişantaşı Brasserie at Biber Bar and vice versa... if you like one, you'll like the other place too!

Hope you enjoy your evening out at two of my fav places on Abdi Ipekçi Street!


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