• Food & Drink

    Istanbul’s Irish pub

    Sometimes life doesn’t feel real enough. There’s socializing and then there’s socializing. One type involves trying to impress people, another involves sharing in a good drink and an honest conversation. For the latter, there’s few more genuine places to than the U2 Irish Pub just off Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu. Owner Leo is a true innkeeper and proof that you don’t have to come from the British Isles to operate a proper public house. A pub is a place that should offer welcome to any class of lady or gentleman, and Leo does just that. At little more than four metres square it’s also proof that some of the best pubs don’t need to be big. He’s been open for about six years and leaves a friend or regular in charge on the few occasions when he needs a holiday. The smoking lounge is essentially the stairwell connecting to the…

  • Food & Drink

    Sometimes at Hepsi Hikaye

    There’s nothing quite like a good conversation over a meal between friends. These days, however, it’s not always easy to find the time or the right venue to make such a thing happen. Restaurants can be too loud or too impersonal. Hosting at home requires you to make a serious commitment in terms of preparation and work, and can take you away from the friends you want to get close to. Fortunately, the Bebek club of ideas, Hepsi Hikaye (Everything’s a Story) is now hosting intimate, multi-course dinners on Friday and Sunday nights, dubbed “Bazen” — meaning sometimes in Turkish, and is also a combination of the two Organizers, Banu and Zeynep’s name — with a menu designed and prepared by chef Melih from Alaçati’s well loved restaurant, Agrillia. If you’re looking for an alternative to the typical night out, it’s definitely worth a look. The food Friday night —prosciutto…

  • Places

    Go Galatasaray!

    The football club bearing the above name may be having a lousy season this year, but the neighbourhood in Beyoğlu is winning hands down on several counts. I’d like to list a few ways this colourful intersection between Taksim and Tünel currently scores as the number one place I’d maroon myself in the unlikely event that I ever be forced to maroon myself somewhere. Following are four reasons to go to the Galatasaray Mahallesi right now … BEST COFFEE. Let’s start with the most important drink of the day. After nearly eight years and countless kilos of bitter beans, thousands of litres of scalded milk, and several burnt lips I have finally tasted caffeinated perfection. Or the closest thing I’m going to find to it in Istanbul. Kronotrop in Galatasaray, the “Espresso Blend Atelier” wins hands-down, without a doubt, absolutely, definitely — sorry if I’m overselling this — for the…

  • Food & Drink

    Istanbul’s Vietnamese Speakeasy

    In a recent post I described what I’d do with a leisurely day left to my own devices, and in it one of the places where I said I’d finish my day was Cochine. On Saturday night, however, I was able to put the place to the test with 15 friends for dinner and drinks. From now on, If I have my way, I will never veer from eating out  anywhere but owner-operated kitchens. It makes all the difference. Food preparation is a kind of alchemy. It’s not just the ingredients, or the measurements, it’s the spirit of the people putting it together that determines whether or not they create gold.  There’s a lot of gold at Cochine, located on Kumbaracı Yokuşu, thanks to the complementary talents of its owners Melis Onderoglu Maxwell (pictured immediately below) and Chris Maxwell. It would be all to easy to walk past Cochine’s discreetly…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Festive cheer about town

    Sometimes you’ve got to overdo it to do it right. One might even say ’tis the season. Once you’ve accomplished all there is to accomplish, it’s time to live it up. So here’s my agenda for the perfect day of moderating the moderation, and lounging about before it’s time to get all ambitious again for a new year. Start by finding yourself a good breakfast. You can’t go wrong with a mid-morning breakfast at either Auf or Unter, currently stealing my heart with the beautifully appointed interiors, honest food and fantastic staff. You’ll get a great cup of coffee and something really satisfying from Zeynep’s bakery or Esra’s kitchen. These two love food, and so do their people. It’s a welcoming way to while away the bleary morning hours. When you’re done, maybe amble your way towards Nisantasi and finish off the last of your seasonal shopping, and check out…

  • Food & Drink

    Behind the scenes at:

    Yesterday I had a fantastic opportunity to go into the kitchen and bakery at Auf and see magic being made. Talk about talent. Talk about love. The heat in this kitchen wasn’t only radiating from the ovens, it was glowing from a passionate love affair with food. The people I met on Esra and Zeynep’s team were so alive, and so full of ardour for what they were doing — a philosophy graduate who would rather bake, a former English teacher who’d prefer to create — all working really long hours and pulling it off with incredible smiles. Every day the women (and man) in the kitchen create a new menu, based on seasonally available produce and ingredients which might change anywhere up to 15 minutes before the lunch crowd storms in. Yet this is not a tense environment, and I don’t think simply because there was a yabanci in…

  • Food & Drink

    Getting behind the bar

    It’s been busy, busy, busy  for me since my return to Istanbul. I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to devote to the blog. However, I’ve been having a lot of fun working to help the gang at the Bosphorus Brewing Co get things going with their website, writing, shooting and occasionally being used as a “beer test dummy!” — Phil the brewmaster’s words, not mine. Anyway, even though I haven’t had as much time to hit the streets, it’s been a pleasure to interact with everyone here because one thing this place doesn’t lack is personality. Whether it’s out on the floor, or in the kitchen this place is bursting with flavour. Here’s a taste of who and what I’ve been working with over the last week or so, as well as what you’re missing if you haven’t paid this place a visit yet. BTW: there’s some…

  • Food & Drink

    Bosphorus Brewing Co. leak

    Once upon a time I decided I would never, ever work again in advertising or branding unless it was for something in which I believed wholeheartedly. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I believe in good beer. Better yet, I believe in good beer and good food. Happily I have made the acquaintance of the Bosphorus Brewing Co., an interesting new venture involving craft beer by a delightfully eccentric brewmaster named Philip Hall. He and his family have been living in Turkey for several years now and have decided to invest themselves fully into something which they too subscribe to — real ales and honest food. Well, my friends, I can tell you that I have sampled both now, and the golden nectar they serve is the genuine article. The entire menu at the Bosphorus Brewing Co. has been developed to pair perfectly with its select brews and is the work of…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Spilling into the street: café culture in Istanbul

    I recently composed a half page piece for the Globe & Mail, one of Canada’s national broadsheets regarding Istanbul’s café culture, and my pick for the best coffee joint in the city. It was nice to see they used my photography as well. I must say I had a great time researching the piece, as drinking coffee and people-watching seems to be one of favorite pastimes. They didn’t edit or alter much of what I submitted. I had hoped to include a link to their website, but the piece has only appeared in print. To read the full text please follow the link below the article picture.

  • People,  Places

    Sokak Style at Holy Coffee

    A good café needs a cool street presence. In fact, it’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the vibe, which is all about the people, the kind of character and the community you draw. Holy Coffee in Çukurcuma not only brews a decent cup, they attract a lively crowd, happy to spill into the street, whether it’s for a smoke, a chat or to soak up the nice warm autumn light. This place has a friendly, lively vibe and it regularly fills with some of my favorite people. I have to say, I’m feeling the love.