Tuesday, March 12, 2013

GQ Bar/Istanbul: By Day...

Dear readers,

Update:  Unfortunately GQ Bar & Restaurant didn't last very long and closed in the latter part of 2013....

I wish I had time to write in my blog everyday because I have so many things to write about, but unfortunately since I work too (freelance), I have to manage my time according to my projects. I am hoping to cut back on my work schedule a little bit this year to concentrate more on blog and travelling - so let's see how that works out!

GQ Bar really should be called GQ Bar & Restaurant because it's name is really deceiving because it is so so much more than just a bar! 

Everyone must have heard of the popular GQ Magazine - well GQ Bar is managed by the company that has the rights to the magazine in Turkey. The Turkish version of the magazine has been in circulation for the past year... and, on the anniversary of GQ Magazine's entrance into the Turkish market, GQ Bar threw a launch party (February 28th) inviting the glitterati of the Istanbul social scene... although, it had it's soft opening a few weeks prior to the party...

Anytime a new and potentially "trendy" restaurant opens in Istanbul, there is a lot of hullabaloo and lots of pre-press coverage and GQ Bar got it's share! However, sometimes the "reviews" can be off base followed with lots of disappointments from "regular" customers of the new venue..

I am happy to report that my first impressions of GQ Bar are very very positive! I had stopped by to see the place in mid-February after having dinner at PF Chang's (my other favorite restaurant) on Nisbetiye Street "row" (I say "row" because this section of Nisbetiye Street in Etiler has gone through a major transformation in the last year and there are cafes and restaurants lined up one after the other in a 3-block radius and there is basically something for everyone in all price ranges) in Etiler and the quick look I got, I really loved the decor and to my pleasant surprise found out that Erol Usta is the General Manager. I met Erol more than  10 years ago and he is a major fixture on the wining and dining scene in Istanbul and has worked at Paper Moon, Bice and Cipriani. So, I was sure that the service staff and management at GQ Bar would be top notch!

Today was one of those days that I wanted to give myself a break from my projects because it was a lovely and sunny day, so I decided to go to GQ Bar for lunch after I hit the hairdresser for a quick makeover!

This was an impromptu decision on my part, so I went alone because most of my friends work and I don't mind dining alone! The pictures you see above were taken on GQ Bar's terrace. There is also a lovely and chi chi elegantly decorated 2-story fine dining indoor section, but since this is "by day" at GQ Bar, I didn't take any pictures of the indoor dining area and will save that for a blog post I will prepare for the venue "by night".

The terrace is open day and night and smoking is allowed because it's not totally enclosed... During lunch the venue wasn't crowded, so I didn't have a problem getting a seat, but I highly recommend that you make reservations for dinner because they are packed in the evenings!

The waiter brought over the menu and wine list and I was very impressed with the selections and the prices! I was expecting that the prices would be outrageous but was pleasantly surprised that they weren't compared to other restaurants in the same category. Additionally, the menu also included a "set menu" for 69 TL. This price includes a starter, main course and a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage (served between noon and 3:00 pm).

The wine list was very extensive too, but as with most places - wines by the glass were 20 and 25 TL and I decided to order a glass of Alamos (Argentine) Chardonnay (25 TL) because I had decided to order two seafood starters instead of a main course, which I wanted to save for my next visit - this time in the evening.

As I waited for my starters to arrive, a lovely basket of bread with butter (I sent the butter back so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat it!)... and I succumbed and had a walnut roll ..., but only one!

The first dish I ordered was Tuna Tartare with pickled Japanese cucumber, shungiku leaves and miso vinaigrette - which was absolutely heavenly! 

The portion was just right for a starter, the tuna was very fresh and the Japanese cucumbers added the right "kick" to the dish... and the miso vinaigrette further added a nice touch for a well-rounded array of sweet/sour flavors. The cost of the dish was 27 TL.

The second starter I ordered was  Shrimp & Lobster Spring Rolls with organic honey sambali...

I thoroughly enjoyed this dish too because most places do serve shrimp spring rolls, but I can't think of any place I go to that also prepares them with lobster ... the combination of the two shell fish was very tasty and the spring rolls were served at the right temperature, the sauce I dipped it in added a "zing" and it didn't take me a long time to devour it! The cost of this dish was 26 TL and once again, the size of the portion was just right for a starter.

I did take a look at the dessert menu which included lots of wonderful sounding desserts, but since I had already ate too much, I decided against ordering one (next time) and just savored my meal with a Macchiato (the prices of coffee/tea range from 8 TL to 11 TL).

I wasn't at GQ Bar for a very long time and had arrived at about 1:00 pm and left at 2:15 pm, but not before making a reservation for Thursday night!

Just some more info on "night time" dining at GQ Bar... the venue turns into a bar/club after 11:45 pm on Thursday-Saturday and all the tables are removed in the indoor dining areas so that people can mingle, drink and dance... I also heard that they plan on having live music from time to time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to GQ Bar where I had a very relaxing lunch, with excellent food service, and soft music in the background!

Please feel free to share your experiences with me when you go! 

Bon Apetit! 

GQ Bar
Nisbetiye Caddesi No. 79 Etiler
Tel: (0212) 265 44 50

Stay well,