Aker Cafe & Restaurant

Written by on March 28, 2012 in I Eat Turkey, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(No website found at time of publishing) – Sultanahmet neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey

How I heard of this place: When we checked in to our hotel, directly across the street, Chris and I were starving after a long night of travel, sleeplessness, a three-hour journey from IST to our hotel (for lack of helpful maps and directions given to us in Turkish) and food deprivation. We asked our hotel reception desk for a recommendation for a good restaurant. He asked if we like fish, and walked us to the front, sliding glass doors to point out the location of his recommendation – Aker, across the small street – as he called out to one of the waiters to come down and seat us.  

Type of cuisine: Fancy Turkish fare served with a flair: gözleme, pide, and Turkish kebabı.

Ambiance: Located on a crowded street in Sultanahmet, one has to watch out for his life crossing the road to this establishment. The sidewalk restaurant has more tables outside than in, which can be viewed from the sliding glass doors connecting the two spaces. Walking up to the burgundy painted exterior with matching awnings, we were warmly greeted by one of our servers, who seated us at the front, inside, by the windows looking out. (Additional seating is available upstairs, where one window opens all the way to allow for us to see a table covered in blue and white tablecloth. Though, upon further reflection, this may have been the employee break room.) Passerby can choose to sit outside on one of the yellow-linened tables, or pick up their pide orders from the chef at the take-away window. The two marble stairs leading up to the restaurant meet cream-colored tiles, matching the walls and carpet runner along the floor. Our white linen-clothed tables come with yellow table runners and a small, glass vase with white carnations. Both of us choose to sit on the bench seating against the wall for better view of our chef, throwing dough in the air to create the fresh-baked, hot pide we are about to enjoy as an appetizer (on the house).

What I ordered: We each begin with a bowl of Mercimek Corba (Lentil Soup 5TL each) and Sarimsakli Mantar (Mushrooms with Garlic 9TL) to share. For my main entree, I took the recommendation of our server and selected his favorite: Kuzu Guvec (Lamb Casserole 23TL) – lamb meat with mushroom, green pepper, tomato, garlic, onion, and cheddar cheese served in a cast iron caserole (bowl) on a round cutting board. Chris had already determined his order at first glance of the menu: Karisik Izgara (Mixed Grill Plate 28TL) with grilled lamb meat, chicken, chops, “meatball and veal meat with french fries baked potato“, rice, grilled tomato, grilled pepper and sauce. When Chris got up to move the car, I was offered a cup of Turkish tea (on the house).

What I loved: The lentil soup was the highlight of my meal. The lamb in my casserole, too, was seasoned so well that I enjoyed the flavor despite my dislike for lamb, and the juices in which my dish were prepared, perfect.

Why I loved it: It is always nice to get recommendations from the locals and, once again, we were not led astray. I especially loved watching our chef prepare the pide and our hot entrees in the brick oven.

Cost: Average to high (20-28TL per entree)

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