Date of Last Visit: Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Victims: Gerry, Ben
The Damage: Well, I think it was 130 Turkish lira for the three of us. But you know it’s all monopoly money.
The Background: Everyone says that Sultanahmet–the Old Town–in Istanbul is full of crap restaurants, and that pretty much sums it up. But they make one exception over and over again, and that’s Balikçi Sabahattin.
So on our first night in Istanbul when were were tired and hot and didn’t want to go very far, we gave Balikçi Sabahattin a shot. Despite our hotel warning us away. (It’s important to note, however, that the guy at our hotel really wanted us to go to his "friend’s" restaurant. And that the resturant would pick us up in a limo. No thanks.)
So you know, Balikçi Sabahattin was pretty okay. Except for the cats. I hate cats.
The Entrance: The restaurant is about 1/2 full when we arrive at 8 but fills up completely come nine. Our waiter doesn’t speak much English, but we don’t speak much Turkish so no bother. And "white wine" apparently, is easily understood in many languages. There are cats everywhere. Gerry likes cats and they like her. Did I mention I hate cats?
The Food: Our waiter recommends that we split a John Dory and a sea bass between us. But before that, he brings us our mezze. There are some crunchy and fresh shrimp and some sea bass in olive oil and onions. Ah, and a big plate of rice with mussels which was GREAT.
And now there are lots of cats. LOTS.
We take our waiter’s advice–after all, there is no menu. Although we can look at the fish if we want. And the John Dory arrives, deep fried. Which we weren’t expecting. But it’s really great. Really really great. The sea bass is nice but pales in comparison.
It all gives me this idea to start going to Steve Hatt every week and just having him (assuming he still works there) give me a fish. Any fish. A fish a week. Interesting. (Not like give-give. I’ll buy. Really.)
Our dessert is on the house, although how "on the house" on-the-house really is, I don’t know. There’s semolina and ice cream, which I can”t stop eating. A huge plate of fresh fruit. And figs cooked in honey. We leave full and satisfied.
And we try not to trip over any cats on our way out.
The Verdict: If you’re in Istanbul, I’d suggest going here. But watch out for the cats. Meow.