Unfortunately, the major part of this month has been a blur for me! Tis' the season and month for holiday cheer, but it is also the time for colds and flu and I have been battling a cold that just doesn't want to go away since December 8th. In fact, Luka, my adorable 3 year-old Maltese also got a bad cold/flu and now is on antibiotics for the next two more days!
Just as I was lying on my couch, sniffling/sneezing and feeling downright sorry for myself, I received a call from my upstairs neighbor a couple of weeks ago asking for advice on where to go for an "early" New Year's dinner with a few of her friends and with "no reservations" (sorry Anthony B. - stole your line!) I immediately thought of Frankie Istanbul!
Now, if you are wondering how Frankie Istanbul just "popped" into my head,I was fortunate enough to have been invited to an intimate "tasting" dinner (just four of us) on Thursday, December 5th so the "experience" was still very fresh in my memory!
Like I said in my heading, Frankie Istanbul is truly a first class "one stop" venue for wining/dining and live music. To cut to the chase: Frankie is sophisticated and chic with great food, service and ambiance. Normally when you visit places wearing a few "hats", something always suffers - but not at Frankie! The terrace lounge is spacious, dimly lit, cozy and a place where you can have all sorts of wines,cocktails, etc. with excellent bar food (or just pre-dinner drinks) from its perch high atop the boutique Sofa Hotel in trendy and chic Nişantaşı on Teşvikiye Street right across the street from City's Nişantaşı shopping mall...
|Beef Satay (left), Falafel & Bulgur Sheathed Meat Balls (mini içli Köfte) right|
|Frankie Istanbul (indoor bar)|
Frankie Istanbul opened in April 2012 and before my latest visit, I was there to celebrate my sister's birthday in May 2012! So, as you can see it has been quite a while since I had a chance to make a return visit (although I loved it!) for all sorts of reasons (all personal of course!) until very recently. I received a call from Frankie's PR firm and they invited me to try out some of the goodies on their updated menu for the season: Frankie's menu changes a few times a year according to availability of seasonal ingredients.
So, after a long absence I had an opportunity to enjoy a lovely dinner and evening with Ayşem Saraçoğlu (partners with Kaya Demirer at Frankie Istanbul and Kaya is also the Turkish partner of Jamie's Italian), Serdar Kombe, Frankie's highly gifted and knowledgeable sommelier and İlknur Selimoğlu, their PR rep from Kiraz PR Company... The other great thing is that I know Ayşem and Serdar for years and much before their Frankie Istanbul days from the other Istanbul venues they were affiliated with... the same goes for İlknur who I met via Kiraz PR and some of the other clients she handles for her company.
We started out with some bar snacks and prosecco at the terrace lounge and I absolutely loved the bar snacks Serdar selected for me to try, but there are others like "Mini Beef Burgers", "Almond Crusted Shrimp", "Homemade Crab Cakes", "Beef Cold Cut Platter", "Cheese Platter", etc and prices range in price from 28 TL to 52 TL.
We moved over to our table for dinner at around 8:30pm and the place was beginning to fill up pretty quickly by this time and I noticed that the majority of the diners were the 30+ crowd and a mix of Turkish and international clientele.
One of the great things about being invited to a "tasting" is that you get a chance to try a lot more dishes than you would normally get a chance too in one seating!
So, I left the selection of the starters to my hosts and selected by main course, which I naturally had a difficult time finishing.
Our fine dining meal started with an amuse-bouche (little complementary starter given at fine dining restaurants): "Chardonnay wine leaves soup with rice dolma and yogurt mousse", which was absolutely incredible. A full portion of this soup is available on the menu.
|Chardonnay wine leaves soup with rice dolma and yogurt mousse|
One of the things that impressed me so much about the dishes that were selected was that everything was so "fresh", "light", with just the right amount of spices and herbs. Also, the the portions were just right... We had "Crispy Prawn Salad" (with quinoa, edamame, tomato and spicy aioli); "Burrata" (on a bed of tomato salsa and topped with arugula); "Artichoke & Goat Cheese Gratin"; "Crab Salad" and "Risotto" (with octopus and peas). A few of the appetizers above are not on the menu, so you should definitely ask to find out what the "daily specials" are.
I opted to have the "Steak Tartar" (with foie gras butter, crispy potatoes and arugula salad) as this is a dish I rarely find at restaurants in Istanbul. I really enjoy finding a "good" Steak Tartar in Istanbul and I definitely was not disappointed!
On the other hand, my dinner companions had "Lamb Tenderloin" (with aubergine puree, zahter-tomatoes and yogurt sauce); "Grilled Beef Tenderloin" (with baby vegetables, crunch truffle-potato cake & mushroom sauce); and "Hake"(with fresh herb lettuce 'dolma', tobiko, wakame and fennel-mastic sauce)...
At this point, I would also like to mention that Frankie Istanbul has a very wide selection of excellent Turkish and International wines normally not served by the glass at other venues and an even bigger selection of wines by the bottle!
The buzz in the air and the crowd at Frankie Istanbul had steadily risen as we were having dinner and the lounge terrace, dining areas and bar area were full of diners and music lovers as it was nearly time for the live music to begin!
Frankie Istanbul has live music 3 times a week (Tuesday-Thursday) and we were treated to the lovely tunes (English and Turkish) sung by Evrim Özkaynak... Also, on the 2nd Sunday of each month, a prominent and established Turkish singer takes center stage at Frankie Istanbul. On all other evenings there are DJ performances with guest DJs performing from time to time.
|Evrim Özkaynak (left) at Frankie Istanbul|
|Pistachio-Yogurt Cheesecake topped with crunchy pumpkin|
Evrim has great stage presence with a wonderful voice. She is a favorite at Frankie's and performs every Thursday night. Also, there is a music charge to sit at the tables in front of the stage...
What can I say? I had a lovely lovely evening with great food, friends, music and cheer and left with a big smile on my face knowing I would not be waiting another year to go back to Frankie's!
Once again, many thanks to Ayşem for inviting me and Serdar for the selection of wonderful wines!
|Ayşem Saraçoğlu, Serdar Kombe & me (left to right)|
Teşvikiye Caddesi No. 41-41/A Nişantaşı, Istanbul
Tel: +90 (212) 230 66 66
Just a final note: I can't end this post without saying a few words about Frankie Istanbul's highly talented Executive Chef! The 33 year-old Symeon Triantafyllou has been at Frankie's from the beginning and was born in Greece. He began his journey into the culinary world in 1999 and worked at numerous restaurants in Greece (mainly Athens and Mykonos) and Barcelona Spain in different capacities honing his trade before moving to Istanbul and Frankie's in 2012. He received a degree in Administration and Economy of Tourism at the Technological Educational Institute of Athens in 2003 and attended numerous seminars and cooking courses in Athens and Barcelona. He is fluent in Greek, Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Catalan with basic knowledge of French and Turkish. Besides everything else... he is a very inspirational chef with very good technical skills!