Out for Dinner in Istanbul: Antiochia

August 15, 2012

 

One luxury of traveling is the ability to go out for dinner far more frequently than you would at home. I adore eating out, especially in new countries. Bonus points if there is no English on the menu and you have to play the “point and hope for the best” game. I recall one very interesting meal in Moscow three years ago where Ben and I played that very game. We won some and lost some. Pickled fish was involved. Good times.
Turkey was the first stop on our honeymoon. Ben and I had a few meals out in Istanbul – one was average, one was lovely but not traditional. And then we went to Antiochia.
Antiochia is a popular restaurant nestled in the Beyoğlu area of the city, attracting a young and hip crowd (did I just write “young and hip”? I think I did). Anyway, this funky spot (is “funky” worse?) only seats a modest number of patrons and so you may have grab a drink at one of the many bars nearby while you wait for a table. When we visited Antiochia Ben and I did just that, snagging cheap (compared to Melbourne standards) cocktails pre-dinner one night. They make strong cocktails in Istanbul…just saying. I will forever foster simultaneous feelings of affection and repulsion towards pear-infused vodka.

 

Antiochia serves a great grill – traditional dishes done with a clean, modern edge. Something tells me it’s not the type of food a traditional Turkish mamma would make, but it’s everything you could ever want as an introduction to Turkish cuisine in a sleek environment.
Raki to start, the Turkish spirit which I found to be very similar in taste to Ouzo. I hope I am not grossly offending cultures by drawing a comparison, they may possibly be light-years apart but to me they taste very similar. And they both leave everything a little bit fuzzy after a few sips. Same same but different.
Their Shepherd’s Salad was pure, simple deliciousness. Fresh lettuce and tomato, generously dressed in pomegranate molasses and loaded with chopped walnuts. Perfection.
The toasted pita was warm and addictive. The tzatziki was thick and full and wonderful and the muhammara (a Turkish hot pepper dip) was really lovely – much drier and chunkier than others we tried. Appetiser deliciousness.
The grilled steak was fantastic – darling plump pieces of fillet cooked perfectly. The grilled pepper and tomato were wonderful additions to the dish (you often receive these as accompaniments to your dish in Turkey).
A second visit? Yes indeed. We had dinner at Antiochia on the last night of our honeymoon. Ben and I had heard great things about their durum wrap, although foolishly didn’t order it on our first visit (where we made a rookie mistake and filled up on pita and muhammara). Our last night out started with some celebratory drinks at a nearby bar *enter pear-infused vodka* and ended with a gorgeous spread of Turkish food at Antiochia *enter enthusiastic menu ordering*.
Look at that spread…
It was all really really delicious. On this night we had the durum wrap, which was divinity. Thinly pounded, perfectly seasoned, spiced grilled mince, wrapped with their lovely pita and a little salad decoration. We were in love. We also tried the kofta that night, which were really delicious – a good amount of spice. And again the steak, salad, pita and dips.I’ve long been a fan of pomegranate molasses (check out middle eastern deli’s for a bottle of this sticky golden goodness), but I’m yet to really get into nuts as a salad garnish. Nuts are more of an afterthought for me and I tend to stick to toasted pinenuts or almonds. Now I’m keen to get into walnuts – lots of them!

…..

Istanbul is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, and so I thought that this post may be useful for some hungry travellers out there. You gotta eat, right? And you want to eat well, this I know. Antiochia is a pretty great option when going out for dinner in Istanbul. Raki and pear-infused vodka is not necessary but encouraged.

Heidi xo

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  • xoCATox August 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Oh WOW, that food looks absolutely divine!

    I love pear vodka, it is one of my favourites mixed with lemonade (or soda water these days, and I'm try to be a *little* healthier! I could cut out the alcohol altogether and be healthier still, but where's the fun in that?!)

    I'm sure pear vodka accompanied by these divine eats would be light years better! Yummy yum xx

  • Taryn August 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I had an interesting encounter in Istanbul with taking a stab at the Turkish menu…sheep intestine sandwich anyone?!

    Wish I had known about Antiochia!
    xT

  • Lisa @ Blithe Moments August 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Istanbul is soooo high on my list of places to visit and your posts are only increasing that. I love the enthusiastic ordering, reminds me of a time in Hong Kong where my boss and I ordered so much yum cha people on the surrounding tables were staring and pointing.

  • Iron Chef Shellie August 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Ahhh and you've whisked me away again! Lol i'm not sure if funky is worse than young and hip, but who cares! It all looks amazing!

    ahhh.. yes the menu roulette, good fun!x

  • Michelle Chin August 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    They are even promoting visit turkey in malaysia. So i guess you are right, it is becoming a popular tourist destination.

    btw, do you find turkish food salty? my mom kept complaining about how the food there is salty – or maybe she followed a tour/?

  • Heidi August 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Cat – that sounds delicious!

    Taryn – yikes! Yeah, don't think I'd be too pleased with that one 😉

    Lisa – love it hehe 🙂

    Michele – thanks, lady!

    Michelle – hmm no not particularly… Your mum may have just had some bad luck, perhaps?

    Heidi xo

  • Ashley August 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I've never thought of visiting Istanbul before, but I think your meal may have changed that…sounds wonderful!

  • Jac August 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Great post. I love the look of the Shepherd’s Salad and only 4 ingredients – perfect!

  • Not Quite Nigella August 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Hehe we also find that if we've missed out on a much heralded dish, that we simply must go back! 😀 I have two bottles of pomegranate molasses in my pantry-one bought because the bottle looked pretty! 😛

  • Hannah August 16, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Oh Heidi, what perfect meals for your gallivanting soul! Fresh vibrant colours, flavours, and jazziness. No stepping off the plane in search of the nearest familiar McDonalds for you 😉 xo

  • The InTolerant Chef August 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I just love pomegranate molasses, I mix it with lots of fresh mint- yummo! My sister lived in Turkey for seven years, but I don't think she ate such lovely dishes as these 🙂 My (Turkish) brother in law made me some delicious skewers the other day that he cooked over charcoal, but he said they never ate them in Turkey!

  • Heidi August 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Ashley – mmm it was!

    Jac – so simple!

    Lorraine – oh I totally get that 😉

    Hannah – hell no!! 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Margaret August 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I'm watching Chocolat at the same time you are!! It's such a sweet, feel-good movie. Nice to watch on a cold night. 🙂

  • Tiffany August 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Hehehe – I caught myself saying "groovy" the other day. Definitely on par, or possibly worse, than your "funky"!

    Beatutiful post Heidi, as always.

    xx