April 27, 2011

Sofyali 9, Istanbul. June, 2007

What a gem this restaurant is. When Nick and I went to Istanbul in 2007, we had our first meal here. And our last. Situated in Beyoğlu at the corner of two small pedestrian alleys, it’s the perfect spot for a lazy, late-evening, outdoor dinner. First up, the waiter comes by with a huge tray (how can he balance it?) on which sit about a dozen small dishes of meze choices: purslane in yogurt, eggplant salad, muhammarah (pomegranate/walnut spread), broad beans with tomato, cheese spreads, etc. Various hot meze are circulated among the tables as they emerge from the kitchen: cheese croquettes, fried liver chunks, etc. You’re almost too full to order an entree, but the variety of fresh fish and lamb choices are hard to pass up. To finish, perhaps a slice of the most perfectly ripe melon, the type (and quality) of which is not to be found stateside. A justifiably popular spot for natives and visitors alike (and mercifully quieter and more genuine than some more touristed locations), it provided us both a blessed welcome and a terrific sendoff in this city that seems designed for the pleasures of eating outdoors.

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