Tuesday, February 19, 2013

La Brise Brasserie: A "French" Delight in Istanbul!

Dear readers,

I love almost everything French! I love Paris and try to visit as often as I can afford it! In fact, I love visiting all parts of France and have been to Chamonix in the winter, Cannes & St. Tropez in the summer... parts of the wine country... I also love French brands with Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior on the top of my list! What can I say, I have expensive tastes! 

Of course undoubtedly I love French wine and food...so, when La Brise Brasserie opened in Asmalımescit in the Beyoğlu district in Istanbul in January 2008 it didn't take me long to go and see it for myself and I was in tenth heaven! This lovely quaint French Bistro was truly decorated to resemble a typical Parisian bistro ... the minute you walked through it's doors, you were no longer in Istanbul! After getting hooked on the decor, I got hooked on the food and tried to stop by as frequently as I could, but always for dinner! 

La Brise Brasserie is owned by Lale and Teoman Hünal (also the owners of The North Shield Pubs), a lovely couple who I've gotten to know and admire. The brasserie's chef is their daughter Esen Hünal Blake, an exceptionally talented young chef and La Brise was decorated by Seda Hünal, their other daughter who is a very talented interior designer! So, you can see... it's truly a "family affair" at La Brise!

After a long and successful run in Asmalımescit, they decided to spread their wings and moved to chi chi Nişantaşı on Mim Kemal Öke Street late last year in September! Parallel to the posh Abdi Ipekçi Street, Mim Kemal has really flourished in the last year and has some excellent restaurants & cafes (i.e. Hünkar, Delicatessen, Mezzaluna, Bread & Butter, Den Cafe,etc) stealing the scene from its "sister" street from time to time! 

La Brise Open Kitchen (top), indoor dining area (bottom)
I attended the opening night cocktail party organized by La Brise and had every intention of stopping by to eat shortly thereafter, but between the end of year rush and unavoidable reservation cancellations a few times in January, I finally made it to La Brise last week on February 13th with my two dining buddies (my sister Meltem and good friend Nur)!

I had missed going to La Brise and it was a nice treat! This time we went without making reservations (big mistake!) and got there around 7:30pm and were fortunate enough to get a table outside as the dining room was full. So, I highly suggest you make reservations before going!

La Brise's food, wine and dessert menus are quite extensive!

With our cocktails in hand, we started browsing the menu which is prepared in French and Turkish...

The a la carte menu is made up of a smogasbord of French delights! It includes anything and everything from Oignon Gratinée (onion soup), Salade Verte (green salad) and Niçoise Salade to a whole host of tartines as entrees and to Steak Frites, Steak Tartare and Chateaubriand (for 2) to Confit du Canard (duck confit) to Choucroute Garnie (pork chops with sauerkraut) and much more for main courses!

Everything sounded so good and I have tried most of the dishes before so this time my sis Meltem and I opted for the traditional Salade au fromage de chevre (goat cheese) while Nur ordered Tartine saumon fumé, fromage du chevre (smoked salmon and goat cheese tartine)...

For our "vin" for the evening, we chose a bottle of Doluca KAV Böğazkere-Öküzgözü from their every extensive wine list. Although there were many many wonderful French wines, prices in Turkey are quite expensive, so we opted for a moderately priced Turkish wine which everyone enjoyed. The salads were excellent and the portions generous... I especially liked the extra touch of the pomegranate in my salad which added a nice kick to it! As far as the salmon goes... the quality was excellent and I immediately knew where they purchased it from! To give a plug to my friends David Shipman and Dilistan Çilingiroğlu, La Brise purchases the salmon from this fantastic couple's company called Delicco Fine Foods (www.delicco.com). I believe they also sell their products at select supermarkets. You can check their website for details.

For our main course, my sis and I once again chose the same thing: Boeuf Stroganov (Beef Stroganoff) which we both love while Nur was more adventurous and ordered Parmentier de boeuf braisé parfumé a la Truffe Noire - in other words braised beef flavored with black truffles and topped with mashed potatoes! Talk about down home cooking!

Boeuf Stroganov (bottom); Parmentier du boeuf braisé (top)
Both dishes were very very good and we were all in "French" heaven in Nişantaşı as you can see from the looks on our faces below while we were still just having our entrees!

Meltem (sis, left front), Nur (left back) and me!
Although we ate a lot of food and our attempts at maintaining our weights was greatly tested, there was no way we were going to end our dining feast without having dessert! But, we were good and just ordered one dessert to share: Mille-feuillle au rhum although the dessert menu also includes Creme Brulee, Crêpe Suzette, Mousse au Chocolat, etc and of course Plateau du fromages (cheese platter)!

I have to admit that the dessert was so fresh, flaky and light that it took us mere minutes to devour it and we could have definitely each eaten a full portion!

To wrap up, we had a lovely evening catching up and enjoying an excellent meal with superb service in a lovely ambiance at La Brise...

To give you an idea on the prices... entrees range from 16 TL to 45 TL, main courses from 36 TL to 96 TL, Desserts and cheese from 15 TL to 42 TL, coffee and tea from 7 TL to 9 TL. They also have an excellent list of cognac and liqueurs ranging from 22 TL to 50 TL while the wine list prices start at around 89 TL/bottle (some are available by the glass).

Finally, I wanted to include a photo of Esen, the chef at La Brise which I took at their opening cocktail party in September. Besides being a very talented chef, she is also a wife and mother with a toddler who looks exactly like his grandfather Teoman!I ran into them at Kanyon yesterday and had a chance to meet the little fella who appeared to also be very shy or just sleepy!

Esen Hünal Blake (chef)

Bon Apetit! Afiyet olsun!

La Brise
Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi No. 11/A
Tel: (0212) 244 48 46

Stay well!


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