Friday, December 14, 2012

Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye & Park Şamdan/Rixos Pera Hotel: A Winning & Elegant Combo!!

Dear readers,

Exactly a week ago today and at about the same time (it's 5:00pm now) on a cold and rainy day in Istanbul, I met my sister Meltem and good friend Nur at Kanyon to hop on the metro to go to Beyoğlu (the best way to travel these days especially with the construction havoc and road closings in the Taksim/Beyoğlu area which will last for many many more months) to attend an exhibit of Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye's glorious ceramic bowls at Galeri Nev located at the historical "Mısır Apartmanı" on Istiklal Street - at the half way point between Taksim and Tünel.

Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye exhibit at Galeri Nev
I feel I am among those fortunate people who know Alev personally! I met her and interviewed her at her lovely loft apartment/studio in the heart of Paris about 4 years ago for an article on "Prominent Turkish artists living in Paris" for The Guide Istanbul and we became fast friends! So, everytime I visited Paris I would contact Alev and we would get together if she was also in town as she is constantly running around the globe too! I had recently contacted her to let her know that I would be in Paris and she wrote back to me saying that she was going to be in Istanbul on the dates I was in Paris and that I should definitely visit attend the opening night of her exhibit at Galeri Nev on Friday, December 7th to which I obviously said "of course, with pleasure"! 

Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye exhibit at Galeri Nev Istanbul

So, this would be the first time we would be seeing each other in Istanbul and undoubtedly the opening night exhibit was jam packed with the followers of Alev's work from Istanbul's business and elite group!

Alev is an AMAZING ceramic artist and she is one of the world's most recognized ceramic artists and she has held exhibits in all four corners of the world. Some of her main exhibits include a retrospective of her works (1964-2000) first at the Kunstindustrimuseet in Copenhagen and the Istanbul Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul in 2001. She has been organizing exhibits in Istanbul since 1987, however, this is her first exhibit since 2007, so everyone was in for a treat and will had a chance to view a portion of her latest ceramic bowl collection (I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview when I visited her in Paris in April of this year!).

Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye exhibit at Galeri Nev Istanbul
As it was opening night and everyone wanted a piece of her, we bid each other goodbye and said we hoped to get together before she returns to Paris at the end of this month.

Alev's exhibit at Galeri Nev is open until January 5th and I highly recommend that you go see it if in Istanbul. Visiting hours are from 11:00am to 6:30pm Tuesday-Saturday. (

We left Galeri Nev around 7:30pm and we were hungry and decided to grab a bite in the neighborhood. However, it was Friday night and we hadn't made a reservation anywhere and decided to try our luck at some of the nicer restaurants in the area.
Our luck panned out and we had a lovely dinner at Park Şamdan, one of Istanbul's better fine dining Turkish/International cuisine restaurants!
Park Şamdan @ Rixos Pera Hotel
Park Şamdan has been around since 1981 and this is the first time in their history that they opened a branch (if we don't count there 'summer branch' at Reina Night Club) that will be open year round.
Located on the terrace of the newly opened Rixos Pera Hotel in Tepebaşı (adjacent to the British Consulate), the elegantly decorated L-shaped white tablecloth restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining areas affording a lovely panoramic view of Istanbul's Haliç Bay. Unfortunately, the view also includes the "god awful" TRT signage on top of the TV station's building close by (which you can see a lit bit of in the photo below)!
Sister Meltem (front left), Nur (back left) and me (right)
The "original" Park Şamdan is locately in a lovely one story villa with a garden at Mim Kemal Öke Street in trendy Nişantaşı, but this branch is also very nice. I'm not going to list everything we had as I usually do because I'm not happy with the quality of the photos of the food I took which would be a disservice to show here! But, I can say we had some of the "classics" from their diverse menu. We started off by sharing a platter of puff pastry, then Nur had a cold artichoke dish prepared with olive oil (delicious) and we all had meat dishes - typical Turkish köfte (meatballs) which I absolutely love; filet mignon which was cooked just right and scrumptious for Meltem and a pepper steak for Nur. We further enjoyed our meal with a wonderful bottle of Kavaklıdere red wine which we tried for the first time. It was excellent and not only recommended by Sermin (the manager), but also "on the house" because we are all longtime customers, but even so, it was a  lovely lovely jest on their part! Thank you once again Sermin!
As always, we did have room for dessert, but only shared one order of chocolate fondant accompanied with coffee ....
Chocolate fondant @Park Şamdan Rixos Pera Hotel
which capped off a lovely evening that included a bit of art, seeing an old friend and having a lovely dinner with my sister Meltem and friend Nur. What else can you ask for in life?
Park Şamdan @ Rixos Pera Hotel
According to international standards, Park Şamdan is not expensive and our dinner cost about USD 55/head (without alcohol). I highly suggest you make reservations for dinner. This branch only opened a few months ago towards the end of the summer and as more people realize it's presence, it will be difficult to get a table as a "walk-in" as we did last week!
Park Şamdan/Rixos Pera Hotel 
Tel: (0212) 377 70 00
Stay well!