Monday, May 9, 2016

CENTRAL NIŞANTAŞI: Better Food... Better Mood... Better Music

Update: Unfortunately although Central Nişantaşı was a very nice restaurant, it closed in December, 2016. 

May 9, 2016

Dear readers:

The weather was absolutely gorgeous this past weekend in Istanbul - just in time for Mother's Day!

As my 91 year-old aunt and 86 year-old uncle were coming over to my house on Sunday, with my sister Meltem, nephew Arman and my honey Luka (maltese dog) we decided to go to Nişantaşı, a trendy and hip neighborhood on Saturday. In fact, we couldn't remember the last time we gone there. While the majority of Istanbulites were hanging out on the Bosphorus shoreline creating  massive crowds, we decided to have a more relaxing day, but not totally to our surprise, Nişantaşı was quite crowded too, but sis had no problem finding a parking space.

We first walked up Mim Kemal Öke Street which is parallel to the more trendy Abdi İpekçi Street which is lined with name brand retailers and all types of modest to expensive cafes and restaurants trying to decide where to eat. My idea was to go to Central Nişantaşı which opened on January 1, 2016, but since it was full, we continued our walk up and headed to Abdi İpekçi Street before returning to my first choice about an hour later when we were lucky to find a table on the outdoor terrace.

As you can notice Central Nişantaşı's slogan is bold and confident, so did they live up to it? Read on to find out...

First, let me add that the Chef/partner of this new eatery is Arda Türkmen, a very successful, experienced, creative and popular chef in Istanbul (his CV is at the end of blog) and who I met about 6-7 years ago and have had the pleasure of being in his company many times.

While my sister and nephew were perusing the menu under the watchful eye of my Luka....

Sis Meltem, nephew Arman and Luka
I went inside to take pictures of the indoor section of Central Nişantaşı...

Let me add that we got to this eatery at about 3:30pm for a late lunch and as you can see the indoor section was quite empty... there are two reasons for this: it was late afternoon but more importantly, when the weather is so gorgeous outside, Istanbulites do not prefer to sit indoors! But, I'm sure later on in the evening as the weather is still cool, more diners will opt to be indoors.

It appears that Central Nişantaşı will be updating its menu periodically (according to season) because the menu cover indicated that the selections listed were available in May & June. I'm sure not all dishes will change in the next menu, but will only be updated according to seasonal ingredients available. 

The menu consists of French, Italian and International cuisines. While the prices aren't cheap, they are not super expensive either and include 1 soup (18 TL); Salads (24-32 TL); Mini meals (22-47 TL); Pasta (38-49 TL); Pizza (32-39 TL); Mains (35-69 TL), Kid's menu (25-35 TL), Sides (7-21 TL); and Desserts (15-21 TL). The eatery also has a nice-sized wine menu, but I do wish there were many selections by the glass... I also found out that breakfast was served (typical Turkish breakfast, eggs, pancakes, quiches and cereal) but forgot to look at the menu.

We gave our orders and started waiting for our meal by munching on warm homemade grain bread and the best extra virgin olive oil drizzled with high quality balsamic vinegar... however, we did wait a little longer than expected for our meal to arrive and realized it had to do with the dish I had ordered. 

My sis ordered...

Beef Carpaccio/Central Nişantaşı
My 15 year-old nephew had (surprise! surprise!) ...

Cheeseburger & Fries/Central Nişantaşı 
And.. I ordered (and the dish that delayed service)

Quiche w/Ricotta cheese, baked cherry tomatoes & spinach/Central Nişantaşı
When I was taking the photo above, I didn't realize that the "french fry" I stole from my nephew was on the plate... so "no", the dish is not served with a single french fry! And... I really should have removed the bun from the burger to give you a better idea of the dish, but I was a little too hungry and wasn't thinking straight!

The dishes we had were excellent and of course, we all tasted each others meals. The beef carpaccio was prepared with lean and very tasty beef ; my nephew found the burger's bun a little too oily (but he ate the whole thing) but enjoyed the cheeseburger so much that he was very skimpy and only gave us a teeny tiny bite to try... My quiche was so yummy, I could have eaten a second one! It was definitely worth the delay because it was prepared to order and not microwaved (I hate that!) and the quality of the cheese and all other ingredients were delicious and fresh.

There's always room for dessert, but if it hadn't been for my nephew, I'm sure my sis and I wouldn't have had any! But my nephew wanted the "Death by Chocolate Cheesecake"...

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake/Central Nişantaşı  
Normally, this dessert is served with 1 oreo cookie set vertically next to the fruit... but they had just run out and we didn't want to wait for a new supply to arrive. Once again, my sis and I were only given a very small piece to try, but that was enough to make our eyes roll with delight and invigorate our taste buds! Long live chocolate!! Once again, it was clearly apparent that the ingredients were of the best quality. 

Most of my readers know that I do not like to write about a new eatery after only 1 visit, but there are exceptions when I am confident in the chef/owners and Arda Türkmen fits the bill! The service staff is congenial, the casual yet chic setting is inviting - but most importantly the food is absolutely delightful so kudos to Arda and his kitchen staff! Can't wait to go again and again and again so that I can try the Falafel... Steak Tartare... Grilled Salmon... Duck Confit and maybe the Pavlova for dessert!!!

Turkish Coffee/Central Nişantaşı
Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi No. 11 Nişantaşı
Tel: (212) 296-92 86

Stay well,

Arda Türkmen founded Roka Davet Catering in 2003. In 2007, he opened Leblon Restaurant in Asmalımescit, Beyoğlu (highly popular in its day but now closed)... Forneria Restaurant in 2013 and Mükellef in 2015, both at the Haze Hotel in Karaköy, which has become a very trendy neighborhood with lively cafes and newly opened boutique hotels. While Forneria is on the street level, Mükellef, a "meyhane" or tavern style restaurant is on the hotel's rooftop terrace with a lovely view of the Bosphorus and Old City. Additionally, since 2010 he has a cooking show on TV (first at CNN Turk and now at TV 8) called "Arda'nın Mufağı" (Arda's Kitchen). I stole Arda's photo from his website for Central Nişantaşı - I'm sure he won't mind! 

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