Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Seafood heaven at Giritli Restoran, Istanbul

Armada Hotel, our hotel in Istanbul, had an exquisite restaurant, where we enjoyed a great meal. If you wanted to dine elsewhere, the hotel recommended a few other restaurants. Giritli Restoran was just located close by, and one evening we decided to try their specialty - seafood. The food was awesome, and we found a lively, informal , and congenial atmosphere that included a loud and very live concert.

Rating the Giritli Restoran experience: BBBB+ (4,30 points)

  • Location: BBBB
  • Interior & atmosphere: BBBB
  • Service: BBBBB-
  • Food: BBBBB-
  • Beverage: BBBB
Giritli Restoran is located in a quaint wooden building by the water in Sultanahmet, the oldest part of Istanbul. This is an area with little public transportation, so the best option is to walk from Hagia Sophia, down the hill. Look at the map at the bottom of the page, as Giritli Restoran is not the easiest restaurant to find.

The inside of the restaurant is as nice as the exterior, inviting with white and pale yellow walls and large windows. The interior decoration is discreet but tasteful with old artifacts, photos and paintings.

It is furnished with dark wooden chairs and tables, elegantly dressed with white tablecloths, and cutlery, with good distance to neighbouring tables.

The staff at Giritli Restoran was inviting and polite, and offered great service. We did not have to study the menu, as we were offered a fixed menu consisting of assorted starters and the fish of our choice, so the ordering took very little time. We chose a bottle of wine and we were all set, ready to tuck into the food - and what food!

In order for us not to be idle, we were immediately served a small bowl of seafood salad with a type of pasta as another main ingredient. A salty, but not too intriguing culinary experience.

We did not have to wait long for our starters, and small white serving plates arrived at our table - MANY small serving plates, and on each a little delicacy to tuck into. Most was vegetarian, obvious to us what we ate, others were more difficult to explain what was.

This was the Turkish equivalent to the Libanese Meze, Italian Antipasti, and Spanish tapas, made from vegetables, olive oil and garlic as ingredient. A few of were based on fish or other seafood.

The appetizers could have been a meal in itself, as there were food in abundance, in fact so much that all three of us would have been filled up, if we had concentrated on the dishes. Sadly we had to leave them for the next dish to arrive.

We were served two small dishes between the meze and the main fish course. First a baked fish pie, deliciously crisp on the outside, and super creamy filling. Then a small fried squid arrived on our table, not perfectly prepared, in fact a little tough and rubbery.

The only choice we had was what fish to choose as a main course, and I do not recall exactly what I chose. The images brings all back to me, a whole fish fillet fried in butter with no other side dishes, and who would have needed more.

The fish was perfectly prepared, firm but still flaky, and well seasoned. The fact that it was not served with vegetables did not worry, as the meal, until then, had been packed with greens in different forms.

The meal was concluded with a sweet dessert, a cake seasoned with different exotic spices, with a distinct taste of cinnamon. As most of Turkish cakes, far too sweet for my taste.

Most people around us enjoyed a glass of raki and water to the food. We chose a good bottle of Turkish red wine to the fish.


For a fixed price, you go through a culinary journey at Giritli Restoran, with a wide range of dishes reflecting the rich Turkish cuisine. You are definitely in the Mediterranean, as you may indulge in mezzeh-style appetizers, fresh fish and seafood and good wine at a very low fixed price. This is definitely a place for an evening out and if you are lucky you'll experience the presence of a colourful music ensemble as we did.

Giritli Restoran
Keresteci Hakkı Sokak (Armada Otel Yanı) Cankurtaran / Ahırkapı
Phone: 0 212 458 22 70
E-mail: giritli_ist@giritlirestoran.com
See official website here (In Turkish)

Vis Istanbul A-Z 2009 Updated January 6th 2010 i et større kart

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