Istanbul eats: köfte
We only knew two things when we stood outside Tarihi SultanAhmet Köftecisi on Saturday, 5th November. One, we were starving. Two, it was crowded.
And not any old crowded. There was a steady flow of tourists and locals walking in and out of the restaurant. The wait staff worked diligently, picking up salads, wiping down the plain tables, seating people and rushing to get somebody’s tea. It looked promising. We walked in.
I didn’t take any good pictures of our food, so we’re going old-school with this one, folks. Less pictures, more words. Read on, please.
We were seated on a small table on the ground floor of the busy restaurant and a waiter placed the most straightforward of menus in front of us. There was one soup option (lentil), a couple of salads and pilav (rice). As for the main course, one could either go for köfte (meatballs) or kuzu şiş kebap (lamb shish kebab). I relished the simplicity.
My sister and I got the soup to share, an order of pilav, the köfte for me and the shish kebab for her. And the verdict? It was very disappointing. I later discovered that this is one of Istanbul’s must-eats but I would advise against eating there if you’re looking for a good meal.
The concept is great; a basic local eatery, specializing in köfte. And the food was affordable, too – if not cheap, compared to the other restaurants in the area.I had a problem with the quality of the food, however. The lentil soup was thickened with a lot of flour, the pilav was served cold and the shish kebab just wasn’t edible. The köfte wasn’t bad but had too much fat, which took away from the texture and taste. It was definitely our worst meal in Turkey.
I have to say though, that the service was pretty good. My sister couldn’t eat her shish kebab and one of the servers brought over the headwaiter who was shocked she hadn’t touched her food. He insisted on bringing us more köfte. We declined his kind offer and assured him that there was nothing wrong with the food, it just wasn’t to our taste.
I was really shocked by all the positive reviews I read online later. It really comes down to on one’s taste and expectations, I guess. We were certainly a lot more careful with restaurants after our initial experience. A few days later, I took a quick photo of the restaurant.