Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Tom's Kitchen Istanbul: "Comfort Food" at its best...
With the opening of Zorlu Center in Istanbul at the beginning of October 2013, we now have an influx of wonderful new internationally recognized restaurants and popular Turkish restaurants under one roof!
I have pretty much been a "regular" at the mall which is literally steps from my apartment (3 minute walk!), but I can't say I really "know" everything about the mall because I'm too busy trying out and tasting my way through all the "non-fast food" eateries every chance I get, so no wonder I've gained weight! Of course, I have also been travelling quite a bit lately, so that hasn't helped either! In fact, I returned a couple of weeks ago from a wonderful trip to San Sebastian, Spain and I plan on writing posts about my travels as well!
I've already written about Jamie's Italian and Morini and now it's time to write about Tom's Kitchen! The list is quite long and I have many other restaurants to write about at Zorlu Center, but just need the time to get to it!
Tom's Kitchen opened at the end of November 2013 and is located on the "main level" or rather the "outdoor" section of the mall and is surrounded by the major fancy and deluxe international and local brand retailers (Louis Vuitton, my personal favorite; Stella McCartney, Dior, Miu Miu, Prada, Beymen, Vakko, Bulgari and the list goes on!)
The eatery is pretty spacious with three sections: an indoor area with an open kitchen and bar; and two outdoor dining areas.
The main reason why many of the restaurants have "outdoor" sections at Zorlu is to accommodate customers who smoke, but unfortunately, the outdoor section of the mall has been encased with glass panels because of the wind and cold weather. As a result, smoking is currently not allowed and has definitely affected the business of restaurants located in this area of the mall (Tom's Kitchen, Parle, Morini). The glass panels will be removed once the weather heats up and the problem will disappear.
I went to eat at Tom's Kitchen for the first time on December 2nd and I have been back at least 3-4 times since then for a dose of good old "comfort food"! However, I have been to Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea, London, so it wasn't a totally new experience for me.
Owned by internationally acclaimed British chef Tom Aikens (with Turkish partners for the Istanbul branch), the menu includes a smorgasbord of comfort food delights! Although Chef Aikens is obviously not in the kitchen, he is very "hands on" and has come back and forth to Istanbul to monitor the developments and of course "gets in the kitchen" on these visits! On one of his visits, I had an opportunity to introduce myself and chat a few minutes and found him to be very friendly and down to earth.
Okay, I can hear you saying... "let's get on with it... talk about the food"!
So, let's start with the "starters"... of course, I won't be able to list the whole menu, but starters include Tom's "classics" like "Steak Tartare"; "Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait and the dish I tried "Spicy Crab Cake with tomato salsa"
It was very good and flaky, but I usually prefer a little more "kick" and to my personal taste, the crab cake could have been spicier.
On the day I had the crab cake, I didn't want to overdo it and wasn't very hungry so I ordered a side dish: steamed spinach (also buttered spinach available), which hit the spot in my quest for "comfort food" that day!
One of the things I usually can never say no to is bread! Although I try to stay away from bread so that I don't fill up too much, the bread at Tom's is so good and unfortunately so is the butter (the French brand President), so I do indulge!
Besides the "classic" starters, Tom's has a list of other starters which include "Endive Salad", "Baked Scallops", "Burratta" and my personal favorite "Roasted Tomato and Mascarpone Soup"... just writing about the soup makes my mouth water and I could definitely have some right now - talk about "comfort food"!
After the starters, there is a section on the menu called "Sharing Dishes" (for two) and they are: "Charcuterie Board (foie gras, smoked duck, ham, beef rosetta); "Fish Board" (fish cakes, mackerel pate, cured salmon, anchovies); and "Seven Hour Confit Lamb" (served with mash potatoes and balsamic onions). I'm looking forward to trying the Charcuterie Board one day.
Now, on to the mains... once again the menu includes Tom's "classic" mains and other mains. There are 5 Tom's classics and I've had 3 of them: "Shepherd's Pie" (my favorite); Organic Chicken Schnitzel (delicious) and "Macaroni Cheese" (with or without truffles), which hits the spot each time, but for some reason I don't have a photo of the Mac n'Cheese, but take my word for it... it's good and I prefer mine with truffles!
The other "classic" mains are "Beef Burger" and "Filet Steak" and there are 4 main courses: "Roasted Lamb Rump"; "BBQ Chicken"; "Aubergine and Herb Cake" and "Calves Liver".
If you are now asking yourself "where's the fish & chips?" obviously that's listed under "Fish" on the menu! I still haven't tried the "Beer Battered" Seabass & Chips" because I try to stay away from fried food, but some of my friends have tried it and say it's excellent... the other "Fish" dishes available are "Fish Pie"; "Sea Bream"; "Baked Fish" and "Fish Cakes".
The menu also includes a bunch of classic sides dishes to accompany your meals. Before going on to the desserts, there is also a "Local Cheese Platter" with a total of 4 types of cheeses (6 pieces each) which is a great idea for an afternoon or early evening snack with wine!
On the subject of wine... I do wish Tom's Kitchen had a more varied wine list (by the glass and bottle) and not rely too much on one particular brand. There are many local and international brands that deserve to be on their wine list.
Now... let's talk dessert! Something I should definitely live without, but can't! I have a love/hate relationship with sweets and succumb to these delectable delights for long stretches at a time and then go "cold turkey" and don't touch the stuff for months! Unfortunately, I am not in the "cold turkey" stage now, but should be!
The list is quite long - with puddings, cakes (cheesecake), "White Chocolate & Passion Fruit Creme Brulee", a "two share" section (Baked Alaska & Ice Cream Sundae)... and I tried the "Cinnamon Doughnuts" (with apple & raisin compote filling and side of vanilla yogurt)...
The doughnuts were good, but not quite what I expected... I thought the filling would be gooier and sweeter, but it was a little dry and the "dough" of the doughnut a bit took thick. I guess I'm sort of a Dunkin Donuts kind of girl!
Wow... after writing this post, I realized I haven't been to Tom's Kitchen for a while and need to make a stop really soon because it's cold, windy and sunny on and off in Istanbul and the "best" time for some "comfort food"!
To sum up, Tom's Kitchen at Zorlu Center is definitely worth a visit. I love the homey and casual decor; the food is good; prices medium to high and the service good.
Zorlu Center - Zincirlikuyu/Istanbul
Tel: (0212) 353 66 77
Open daily from noon to 11:00pm for lunch & dinner
Sidebar: Tom's Kitchen also serves breakfast which is available from 8:00am to 11:45am Monday-Friday and from 10:00am to 11:45am on Saturday-Sunday. The list is quite long and includes everything from croissants, bagels, porridge, cereals to all sorts of egg dishes; pancakes and waffles and sandwiches which you can enjoy with fresh fruit juices, "eye-openers" (i.e. Bloody Mary) and a selection of tea and coffee. Or you might want to try a "Full English Breakfast"! One of these days I hope to finish up my morning chores in a timely manner so that I can try the breakfast treats!