Monday, May 8, 2017

Aila Restaurant: Yummy Turkish Meze and Grills Galore!

Dear readers,

Socially, it has been an active and enjoyable several weeks for me. I've had the opportunity to visit a few newcomers around town that are worth writing about and recommending to my readers on my blog. 

The last event I attended was on April 27th when I was invited to the pre-opening dinner organized for food writers, journalists and bloggers by the newly opened Fairmont Quasar Istanbul Hotel for their restaurant Aila, specializing in Turkish meze (or appetizers) and grills. 
Fairmont Quasar Istanbul in Mecidiyeköy
Part of the worldwide Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, the 5-star Fairmont Quasar Istanbul opened in Mecidiyeköy in the latter part of the 1st quarter of 2017. The hotel is surrounded by the sprawling Quasar Residences & Offices, but it's entrance is on a quiet side street off of the main Büyükdere Street.

With anticipation and not knowing exactly what to expect, I entered Aila from its separate entrance versus from inside the hotel. Upon getting off the elevator, a lovely high-ceiling marble-floored entrance leads you to the restaurant's modest sized elegantly decorated bar, overlooking a portion of the restaurant's outdoor seating area.
Aila Restaurant Bar @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
Both sides of the bar's walls were lined with all sorts of herbs and spices in attractive decanters purchased from the famous Egyptian Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) located in the old part of the city in Istanbul.

After socializing with the guests in attendance as well as meeting the hotel's General Manager Kai Winkler ... and wondering where the entrance to the restaurant itself was, shazam... the walls of the bar lined with the herbs & spices opened to reveal the 2 separately decorated Aila Restaurant!

Aila Restaurant (Grills section) @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
Aila Restaurant (Grills section) @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
First, we were given a tour of the Aila Restaurant's "Grills" section. The decor was contemporary and minimalist with an open kitchen and grill counter on the left hand side of the restaurant. At the end of the hall, there is a private room for special events or just privacy (for up to 20 people).

Then, we walked back through the bar to the left side of the restaurant...
Alia Restaurant (Meze section) @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
A live musical group playing traditional Turkish music called fasıl greeted us as we entered the restaurant. You see, a typical night of "Meze/Rakı" (appetizers & the Turkish national drink rakı similar to ouzo in Greek or arak in Arabic) sets the mood with this type of music.

This section of the restaurant was decorated in warmer colors and lighting and adjacent was the open "Meze" counter where the delectable appetizers are prepared by the chefs and on display for all to view and drool over I should say!
Meze selections at Aila Restaurant @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
One wall was lined with a display of wonderful homemade pickled vegetables and fresh vegetables were also on display on the counter definitely enticing diners!
Aila Restaurant (Meze section) @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
Finally it was time to eat and taste an array of meze and grills!
Aila Restaurant @Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
A "meze and grill" restaurant is all about sharing. Sharing good food, conversation and cheer with good friends, family and/or associates! And... that's exactly what we did! Besides the meze photos above, the following are just a sample of some of the other goodies we had.
Purslane Salad w/radishes, apple, goat cheese & red beets @Aila Restaurant

Grilled octopus w/tabbouleh & red onions @Aila Restaurant

"Adana Kebab" (left) & Tenderloin of Beef (Dana Torpido) @ Aila Restaurant
We tasted 12 cold appetizers, 1 salad, 2 hot appetizers, 3 grills and 2 desserts (unfortunately I didn't have room left for dessert). 

I must admit, I was very impressed with the flavors of the "typical" yet prepared with a "twist" meze by the chef. Recipient of the Le Cordon Bleu Le Grand Diploma, noted chef Umut Karakuş is very experienced having worked at many prominent restaurants around Istanbul and definitely added his own touch to the traditional dishes. For example, he served "humus" with chestnut mushrooms and instead of "circassian chicken", he prepared "circassian duck". In other words, almost each meze has an ingredient(s) normally not used, but it works very well and gives a fresh adaptation to the flavors.

It was a lovely lovely evening! We ate... we drank... had great conversation... caught up with old friends... made some new friends... like I said, that's the idea and concept behind a "meze and grills" restaurant and Aila definitely makes the grade!

Aila Restaurant opened on May 2nd and is open daily for dinner between 6:00pm and 1:00am. There is live music a few nights during the week (check with restaurant for details) and you can also dine in their nicely decorated outdoor dining area. Most importantly, no matter which side of the restaurant you choose to sit, you can order from both menus!

Afiyet olsun! Bon apetit!

Stay well

Aila Restaurant
Fairmont Quasar Istanbul
Büyükdere Caddesi No. 76
Mecidiyeköy, Istanbul
Tel: +90 (0212) 403 85 00
Reservations are recommended


  1. Thank you for the review Vildan! Cheers :))

  2. Glad to hear you liked my post Esin! Looking forward to coming again :)