Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mikla Restaurant & Bar: Pioneer of "The New Anatolian Kitchen"

Dear readers,

Sometimes the easiest reviews are the hardest to write! What can I say about the "51st Best Restaurant in the World" that hasn't already been said?  

But, of course... as always... I will add my two cents! 

Open since October 2005, Mikla is a fine dining, white tablecloth contemporary restaurant & bar located on the top floor and terrace of The Marmara Pera Hotel in Tepebaşı, an area in Beyoğlu, Istanbul. The 360 panoramic view of the old & new city is truly amazing with a small terrace on the restaurant floor which is open for dining during the summer. Only open during the summer months, the top floor terrace is a fantastic spot  for light fare and cocktails with friends or colleagues at the beginning or end of your evening.   
 Old city view from Mikla Restaurant & Bar

View from Mikla Restaurant & Bar
Not surprisingly, Mikla was an immediate hit as soon as it opened and I'm proud to say that I was one of the few people who visited Mikla right after chef/owner Mehmet Gürs signed a contract with the hotel to open his restaurant. "A nail had not yet even been hammered" and I really had to use my imagination to visualize what it would look like after the renovations were completed. 

Mikla Restaurant & Bar

Mikla Restaurant & Bar
In those years, I visited Mikla in my old capacity as the General Manager & Editor-in-Chief of The Guide Istanbul. After the restaurant opened and I had an opportunity to dine there a few times, I prepared an article about the venue in the November/December 2005 issue of the magazine.
Mikla Restaurant & Bar
Nearly 12 years have past since Mikla opened and it is stronger than ever! It has consistently been a popular venue for its gastronomic delights by a discerning Turkish and International clientele. 
Mikla Restaurant & Bar 
Never sitting still, the highly creative and innovative Turkish-Scandinavian chef Mehmet Gürs is the pioneer behind "The New Anatolian Kitchen" concept. To quote Mehmet from Mikla's website:  

"I believe the time has come to rethink the Anatolian kitchen. A new perspective is needed to allow the rich food cultures from the past to survive and evolve. The New Anatolian Kitchen has no boundaries; it is a way of perceiving food, it is a philosophy that can and should be interpreted in many ways."

I highly recommend that you read all about "The New Anatolian Kitchen Manifest" on his website. Also, all the dishes prepared at Mikla are in season Turkish products from different regions around the country. 

This new thinking and concept paved the way for Mikla to quickly move up in the international restaurant ranks! So much so that in 2015, Mikla was ranked 96th by the prestigious "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" Academy... moving up to 56th place in 2016 and to 51st place in 2017!
Mikla Restaurant & Bar 
At the helm of Mikla's success is obviously Mehmet Gürs, but his longstanding, professional & devoted kitchen and restaurant staff definitely plays a key & crucial role! Add to this his regional purveyors and you have the right mix for success!
Chefs "at work" in the open kitchen @Mikla
I met Mehmet Gürs about 14 years ago and this exceptional chef's success dates back to 1996 when he returned to Istanbul from the U.S. and opened Downtown. Under his company The Food & Beverage Group, then came Nu Teras, Lokanta and numnum, a casual restaurant & cafe chain. Today, besides Mikla and numnum, Mehmet's other restaurants include the casual Italian eatery Trattoria Enzo, Terra Kitchen, a casual self-service restaurant and the groundbreaking Kronotop Coffee Bar & Roastery.

After a well-deserved plug for Mehmet, who I immensely admire for his tenacity, determination, positive attitude and above all, his skills & knowledge ... let's get to the lovely dinner I had a Mikla on March 30th after a very very long time! Unfortunately, Mehmet was abroad and I didn't get a chance to see him... hopefully the next time!
Sommelier's Table dinner @Mikla Restaurant & Bar
My dear friend Burçak Desombre, a CMS Certified Sommelier organized her monthly "Sommelier's Table" wine pairing tasting dinner at Mikla and the minute I received her email, I made my reservation which is limited to a maximum of 20 people.
Mikla Restaurant & Bar/Sommelier's Table Dinner
Our 7-course menu was truly amazing and I believe I ate everything that was served without leaving a morsel on my plate! 
Amuse-bouche @Mikla 
Homemade sour dough bread, butter & olive oil @ Mikla
North Aegean Octopus w/tarhana, pickled cabbage & leek @Mikla
Whole wheat vegetable ravioli on a bed of buffalo milk yogurt & baked tomato-garlic sauce @Mikla
Slow-cooked braised lamb w/sea kale, yogurt & walnuts @Mikla

Anatolian raw milk cheeses, honey & prune jam @Mikla
Black mulberries soup w/honey-clotted cream ice cream & cinnamon crumbs @Mikla
As I mentioned above, all the dishes were incredibly delicious, satisfying & innovative. Just to point out some highlights:

1) I could have eaten a whole loaf of the homemade sour dough bread!

2) Tarhana is made with cracked wheat, yogurt and vegetables which is then fermented and dried and is used to make soup. Adding tarhana soup to the octopus dish was an excellent and very different idea.

3) After eating homemade buffalo milk yogurt, you won't want to go back to eating regular yogurt!

4) Until now, I only thought I didn't like lamb... this slow-cooked braised lamb dish changed my mind!

5) I am now a major fan of black mulberries! 

I was SO HAPPY to be back at Mikla Restaurant & Bar after a very long absence and sadly realized what I was missing and hope to go back more frequently - especially after they open their terrace for the summer! Hope to see you there!!!!

Bon apetit!

Stay well,

A "happy" me @ Mikla

Mikla Restaurant & Bar
Mikla's kitchen is open between 6:00pm and 11:30pm and the bar from 6:00pm on Monday-Saturday.

The restaurant offers a 3 course prix fixe a la carte menu or a 7 course tasting menu with or without 6 glass wine pairing. Please check the prices on their website. 

Reservations are highly recommended. Tel: +90 (0212) 293 56 56;

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