Wednesday, February 6, 2013

BIRD Grill & Bar: Still going strong....

Dear readers,

As I had a couple of hours to spare before I have to attend a wonderful dinner feast this evening (will be writing about it in the next few days, so let the place/food be a surprise), I wanted to give you information on aspontaneous visit I made to Bird Grill & Bar in Asmalımescit (Şişhane-Beyoğlu vicinity) this past Friday night (Feb 1, 2013).

The way it happened was I had a meeting scheduled for 5:00pm with my friend Beau at his offices which are very close by. It had been quite a while since we had seen each other so he suggested we go for drinks after our meeting, which of course I immediately agreed to. He also spoke to his wife Karin, who is also a friend and she decided she would join us after she left work. So, our "meeting" turned into a wonderful and casual get-together!

As I am usually considered the "expert" on these subjects among my friends, Beau asked where we should go and I suggested Bird - which is a place I really enjoy going to, but unfortunately have not visited for a couple of years! There are so so many places to go to in Istanbul that it is really difficult to keep up with the pace! Morever, compared to my "heyday", I too have slowed down! There were times I could go out 10 straight nights till very late hours and still be at work the next day and on time no less! No more! And, it just doesn't have to do with age because I still feel like I'm 30 years old and feel "younger" than many who are 30 years old! However, I just don't want to do it anymore! I like my home, I like spending time with my Luka and I enjoy spending "quality time" with family and friends either at home gatherings or by going out to relaxing lunches and dinners in more "quiet" surroundings so that we can enjoy each other's company and be able to "hear ourselves speak". So, I go out less often and that's just fine with me! When I really get antsy, then I hop on plan to my favorite city Paris and go out every night!

It was only about 6:00pm when we arrived at Bird, so I felt we would at least get a table outside (they only have one smoking table in front) because there is no way we could get a table inside without a reservation - especially on a Friday night!

We were lucky and the table in the front was empty, so we had them open the overhead heaters and plopped ourselves down, but not before running into the owner Aliye who I had met when they first opened about 4-5 years ago (I think - I'm not exactly sure on the timing, but it is definitely not more than 5 years) and I had prepared a write up on the venue for The Guide Istanbul.

Our plan was to just have drinks and catch up and have any early evening, so with the long wine list in hand (domestic and international selections), at my preference, we ordered a bottle of Suvla (a fairly new Turkish winery) Merlot which was priced at 90 TL. Just to jump ahead for a second, we did order a second bottle of wine as the evening lasted longer than we thought and we all love wine. This time Beau chose the wine and one that I had never tried before and it was excellent: Consensus by LA Wineries (another Turkish winery). The wine was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - also priced at 90 TL/bottle.

Now, for those who don't live in Istanbul, you're probably saying "wow! that's expensive!" (about USD 52), but wine and all alcoholic beverages are expensive in Turkey because of the taxes imposed. That's a whole other topic and one I won't bore you with!

By the time Karin left work and arrived at Bird, Beau and I had almost finished the bottle of wine and we were hungry. So we decided it would be a good idea to order some food as the second bottle of wine was being ordered!

Bird's menu hasn't changed much (which is good) since they opened and I find it very eclectic and moderately priced for a trendy eatery and definitely compared to the prices at some of Bird's counterparts. Also, the portions aren't that small either. By an eclectic menu, it includes a mix of Turkish, Thai and International treats - some not usually found at restaurants of its kind. For example, their menu includes "mantı" (turkish style ravioli served with plain yogurt & tomato sauce) and "çig börek" (a fried pastry stuffed with meat).

Since we weren't that hungry, we decided to share a beet carpaccio topped with grilled local goat cheese which was excellent! The dish also included sliced cherry tomatoes among the layers, which I personally felt the dish didn't need because was so good and didn't need any other attractions!

Beet Carpaccio with goat cheese @ Bird
For our mains, Beau and I ordered Steak Tartare and Duck Wrap respectively from the appetizers menu and Karin ordered Seafood Linguine (octopus and calamari).

Steak Tartare is not an easy dish to prepare and not a very popular item on many menus in Istanbul (the one at La Brise Brasserie can rival any French restaurant in Paris!) and Beau was a little disappointed (rightfully so) as some sort of Thai sauce was added when making the dish. We told the waiter that the dish definitely didn't need the sauce and would have been better off without it and he said he would convey our remarks to the chef... Karin's linguine and my duck wrap were good (I wish there was more duck!) and we had no complaints. We ordered coffee and no dessert and left Bird by about 9:30pm.

Our bill was about 360 TL, which is very common and once again, even reasonable for a trendy and popular restaurant in Istanbul.

I'm glad I had a chance to visit Bird after all these years and I do plan on going more often, but will definitely make a reservation so that we can sit inside... I couldn't take a picture of the indoor space but imagine a long room with white tablecloth tables lined along the left brick wall and a long and elegant bar with seating on the right hand side. I did take a picture from where I was sitting outside as I didn't want to go inside and disturb the customers (the shrubs around the picture are located at the entrance to Bird)

"Bird's eye view" of Bird!

After the dinner service ends (around 11.00-11.30pm), Bird turns into a lively bar/club Dutch born Joost (Aliye's husband, partner and partime bartender and DJ) spins great music which can be heard from up the street enticing you to swing by!

I can highly recommend Bird if you like to dine and wine in chi chi surroundings with the glitterati of Istanbul!

Bird Bar & Grill
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 103
Tel: (0212) 245 70 85

Stay well!

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