Saturday, August 10, 2013

ALAÇATI VACATION 2013 Part 6: FOGO Restaurant & Bar: Revisited...

Dear readers,

Greetings from another super hot day in Istanbul! Once again I stayed home and did the minimal stuff like housecleaning, laundry, etc., but this has got to be done too! 

I am winding down my posts from my trip to Alaçatı between July 10 and July 29 and although I wrote about this place before, it definitely warrants a second write-up and more details as far as I'm concerned...

Let's put it this way, I was in Alaçatı for 19 nights/20 days AND, I went to FOGO 12 times: 3 times for dinner and the other nights to hang out at the bar! Now, this tells you I really really enjoyed everything that FOGO has to offer and wanted to prepare a more detailed post on this fabulous restaurant & bar - not that they need an PR from me!! 

Just a short note before I continue: If you have been following my blog and reading my posts, you must have realized by now that I like the "good things in life"! Since I'm no spring chicken, I've done my fair share of dive bars, "off the beaten path" restaurants and the like, but I must say, I prefer "elegance, ambiance, good food, etc." much more! I am a "Leo", so I do carry most of the traits of my astrological sign! Some of you might not agree with my "tastes", but that's me... but, don't forget, I might surprise you from time to time by writing about other places you might not expect me to write about! 

Now... it's time to give you a more detailed look at Fogo! If you haven't read my previous post, I recommend that you do!

The location...

Open only since the first week of July 2013, Fogo is located right in the middle of the action in Alaçatı, off of Kemalpaşa Street on 3000 Sokak! 

That is, the main entrance to the restaurant is on this street! Fogo is located inside the newly opened super luxurious Alavya Hotel and can also be reached from the hotel entrance. 

The Kitchen...

Fogo has an open kitchen and at the helm is Executive Chef Carlo Bernardini accompanied with a young staff of chefs who have graduated from various culinary schools in Istanbul...

The "open kitchen" looks out into the dining area, so you can watch the chefs at work, a concept I absolutely love!

The restaurant...

The spacious restaurant and bar at Fogo was designed by popular Turkish designer Hakan Ezer and he has done a wonderful job! 

The dining area is divided into 2 sections: the main dining area is in front of the bar with long tables (sometimes used for communal seating) and oval tables in the center with additional seating for 4 to 8 people on a one-step up level adjacent to the tables in the center. Also, there are several tables by the main entrance where you can enjoy a "quieter" dinner. 

The restaurant is dimly lit with soft lighting and candles on most of the tables, but sometimes it is difficult to see what you are eating, but Carlo was looking for a solution to this problem.

The food...

As I mentioned earlier, I ate at Fogo 3 times and enjoyed my meals each time. However, my last meal at Fogo with my sister Meltem and brother-in-law Ibrahim was the piece de résistance, as Carlo and I who have been friends for about 16 years (please read my first blog post on Fogo, I don't want to repeat myself) invited me as his guest my last night in Alaçatı and he prepared a lovely 7 course dinner for us, which we thoroughly enjoyed at the bar (all the tables were booked!)
@ Fogo Bar (July 28) with sis Meltem and brother-in-law Ibrahim

Talk about a feast!!! 

Since Fogo is dimly lit, I don't know if the pics do the food we had justice, but the tastes were incredible! We first started our meal with "Burrata (cheese) with sea asparagus and raw tomato" (top center), followed with "Grilled octopus, Alaçatı leaves with cherry tomatoes and lime sauce" (bottom left); "Razor clams" (bottom right), which is not on the menu, but was out of this world!; "Grilled calamari with greens, baby oven potatoes & 3 sauces" (top left); "Homemade spinach linguine"; and "tenderloin of beef"! Talk about getting stuffed and totally overwhelmed with different flavors and tastes which worked well together at one seating!

Of course, all this wonderful food was accompanied with wonderful wine! Our first wine was from Piemont, Italy (Fontanafredda 2010) and the 2nd a lovely Turkish wine (Serena - a merlot), although it could have had a much better label! The other picture in the photo was a cherry liqueur served with our dessert...

Yup, on top of all this food, we also had dessert! 

Alessio Di Gino, manager of Fogo serving us sorbet!
I honestly can't remember what other desserts are on the menu at Fogo because I usually don't eat dessert right after a meal (although I am a major dessert addict), but no matter what else they have, I highly recommend that you order the homemade sorbet! They make different flavors to include strawberry, lichi, mango, melon, etc. and they are soooo refreshing and delicious! The person you see serving us our dessert is Alessio Di Gino, the manager of Fogo. Also an Italian, Alessio has been living in Turkey for a while too and is longtime friends with Carlo and he is in charge of making sure that everything runs smoothly at Fogo (not always an easy feat!), which he does with a smile and cracking jokes! 

Having a meal at Fogo is not cheap, but I noticed that their prices are either comparable or sometimes lower than some of its counterparts in Istanbul. On another evening I tried the "Bresaola" (a meal unto itself - a large portion) and "Shrimp Ceviche with avocado, mango & lime" which were also very good! In fact, one night some friends of ours ordered "Charcuterie Board of Serrano Ham, Tuscan Salami and Bologna" which was enough to feed 4 people! I also tried the "Fogo Beef Tartare", but since I'm a "traditional French style steak tartare" fan, it was okay, but not great...

The Bar... The Music

I'm sure that when Carlo opened Fogo, he knew that his restaurant would become a popular spot to visit in Alaçatı, but I don't think he had any idea HOW popular the bar would be!!!

When I first went to Fogo on July 10th (a week or so after its opening), the bar crowd was "so-so", but it only took about another week for the Alaçatı crowd to "discover" Fogo Bar! The bartenders - Altuğ, Eray and Erdem make excellent cocktails, always served with a smile and I swore off having any after going "overboard" with the Mojito(s) that Eray prepared for me one evening! I just stuck to rose or red wine after that (my choice of alcohol anyway!)! The price of the wines by the glass are between 14 TL and 20 TL and the prices of the cocktails start at 30 TL (all comparable to other places of the same caliber).

Fogo Bar has two DJs and they are both very good and have different styles and play both International and some popular Turkish tunes... unfortunately, since Fogo is in central Alaçatı, they really have to turn down the volume of the music by 12:30am (it's the law), but does remain open until the last customer leaves which can be around 2:00am!

The Crowd...
This is the best part for me and had us going back 12 times throughout my stay! I ran into a lot of friends from Istanbul and Izmir at Fogo and most of us are of "like minds" and ages... Fogo mainly attracts the over 30 crowd of Turks and foreigners who like to enjoy a night out in elegant surroundings with good music and where they will run into other friends! In a short time, the bar got so "clicky" as almost "everyone knows each other or knows someone who knows someone", etc. and I made some new acquaintances (too soon to call friends) as a result! I'm sure others have too!

1) Always make a reservation for dinner otherwise you won't be able to get a table...

2) Dress nicely... it is an elegant place, nice jeans, t-shirts or shorts are okay (for men and woman), but no sneakers! (they are not saying this... I am!)

3) The bar is crowded almost every night, so if you want to get a bar stool, get there before 9:00pm.

4) Have fun and go with the flow!  

As I was hanging out at the bar one evening, I mentioned to a new acquaintance that "Fogo was 'my Lucca' in Alaçatı" and he understood exactly what I was talking about because he too goes to Lucca in Istanbul (refer to my post on Lucca)

Lucca is my "home away from home" and I have been a customer ever since they opened nearly 7 years ago. The crowd is friendly, enjoys having a good time, the food and service are excellent and "everyone knows your name" after awhile (just like in the sitcom Cheers!). That's how I feel  when I go to Fogo.

Fogo will be closing for the season in mid-September, so you still have time to visit... and who knows, you might run into me there again... I'm going back to Alaçatı shortly for another vacation, but a short one this time (1 week). Make sure to say hello to me if you've read my post! 

Fogo Restaurant and Bar
Tel: (0232) 716 66 32

Stay well,

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