Ayapam Boutique Hotel

Written by on March 30, 2012 in I Eat Turkey, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(ayapamboutiquehotel.com) – Pamukkale, Turkey

How I heard of this place: We found the establishment while looking for a quaint, clean hotel in Pamukkale, to rest our weary heads after nine hours of driving from Istanbul, on Trip Advisor. The 100% ratings caught our attention, and the price (70 Euro for half-board, including dinner and breakfast for two) was unbeatable! Having only been open since 1 June 2011, they have really done a stellar job on creating a warm, friendly establishment, with unmatched Turkish hospitality, kindness and generosity.

Type of cuisine: Traditional Turkish, meze style.

Ambiance: The clean white spaces throughout the hotel make it obvious that this Boutique establishment has been recently renovated (having opened in June 2011). The dining space is no different. The white, hardwood floors run up against the stark white walls feeding into the ceiling of the same color. A handful of pillars on either side of the room give space for the matching picture frames of art resembling old, Persian style, colorful paintings. Climbing the round, white staircase and coming out into this space it is difficult not to notice the cherry red seats around the white coffee table, home to a backgammon set. The black, plastic and metal-framed chairs at each table of four elegantly modern settings (white linens topped with two black, leather runners, connecting chairs across the table from each other). A small bar area is availble with four stools at the white counter is also found, unobtrusively in the corner. Their website expounds, “In terrace restaurant, you can enjoy tasty variation of Turkish meal both breakfast and dinner with magnificent travertin view. It will be one of the most memorable dining for you. In winter, we offer you meal in closed restaurant where is totally warmed with floor warm up system. Night time ceramic lamps made in Kütahya make you relax with their exotic atmosphere.”

What I ordered: Without placing any orders, we entered the empty restaurant to see one table beautifully set with our gorgeous presentation of meze. Upon being seated, we were certain that the abundance of food in front of us was dinner, itself. Little did we know, that as we were completing our final bites more, bigger dishes of hot food would come to be presented to us. Needless to say, we enjoyed those, too. But let me return to the tantalizing spread before us: a salad plate of fresh salad: tomatoes and cucumbers diced so small, one cannot help but express whispered gratitude to the chef, a simple and light lemon vinaigrette and fresh, julienned parsley, the plate lined with slices of cucumber and carrot rounds, topped with a fancy slice of lemon. The second, larger plate hosted a lotus-cut stump of cucumber surrounded by two mini dolma, a scoop of Russian potato salad, a scoop of a tomato-eggplant, garlic and mushroom medly, a scoop of the Turkish versian (or the Ayapam version) of tabouleh, one scoop of labane (thick yogurt), and a final scoop of a yellow splitpea combination, reminding me of the Persian Ghaymeh. As if this wasn’t enough, a basket of fluffy white bread was made available to us for the delicious spreads from our meze. After our appetizers we moved on to the soup course, where a hot bowl of tomatoey lentil soup was brought to each of us. While we had noticed the fresh fruit, sliced and lovingly placed on the small dessert plate, as well as the second plate of Turkish desserts, we chose not to attack them until after our main courses were placed in front of each of us. The dinner plate included two small chicken breasts, pan-seared with salt, pepper and turmeric, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as the final touch, mini lamb kofte, sauteed with onions and banana peppers, a small portion of French fries, a small ball of white rice, half of a grilled tomato placed on a leaf of lettuce to look like a flower, and a slice of grilled onion. Our fruit plates included sliced oranges, kiwi and strawberries, as well as peeled apple slices topped with a strawberry syrup. The dessert plate consisted of mini (melon-sized) scoops of kadaif, two small scoops of something resembling the Persian/Iranian halva (with a golden brown tint), slightly different in flavor and texture from each other. The final sweet placed on our quartet of dessert was a bright orange, fruit-like bite that tasted as if it had been soaked in sugar for several days.

On a return visit (for breakfast)Sunday, 31 March 2012: As with our dinners, our breakfast plates were created and set at a table, awaiting us the following morning. We throughly enjoyed our simple Turkish breakfast of one-quarter of a peeled cucumber, half of a small tomato, sliced, a handful of green and black olives, one-quarter of a Golden Delicious apple, and a wedge of an orange, two slices of cheese, half a slice of bright pink bologna, an individual packet of butter and a tiny, glass bowl of honey. The same fluffy, white bread we have grown to love, generously piled high in a basket was also available to us. Turkish tea, apple tea and coffee were available to us.

What I loved: Our dinner meals were so abundant, each bite tastier than the last, it is hard to narrow it down to a few favorites, let alone one that stood out most. The mini kofte, I do believe, were the best meatballs I have ever had (outside of my mom and dad’s cooking)! The lentil soup was seasoned very well and one of the most creative I’ve sampled, with a small grain as its more filling ingredient. (The grain looked like quinoa, prior to being cooked, but tasted like barley.) The tabouleh on our meze was to die for, as was the eggplant dish, sparking conversation between my husband and I as to our new-found love of eggplant, prepared the way the Turkish chefs do it!

Why I loved it: The friendliness of the staff, especially by way of preparing our dinners 30 minutes earlier than the dining room opens to accommodate our massages! The flavor of the food. The abundance of our meals. The care and attention with which each of our dishes were prepared and presented. It all combines to form one of the most memorable dining experiences we had the pleasure, and luxury of enjoying on our trip.

Cost: Extremely low considering that dinner and breakfast were included in the cost of the hotel.

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