28 Sep2008

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The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul, at Sultanahmet, to distinguish it from their newer and possibly more sumptuous property at the Bosphorous, is one of the most highly rated hotels in Europe. Ever since it opened some 10 plus years ago, I promised myself that when we finally got to Turkey, we would splurge and take temporary residence there. Hahaha. That is, until I checked the latest room rates, and at some USD1,200++ a night, it just didn’t seem to fit within our travel budget. :) And better yet, they were fully booked, so even when I tried to book just one night in their least expensive room, and stay the rest of the trip in smaller more modest accommodations, it was simply impossible, and thus my personal quest to stay there is now only considered “temporarily thwarted”. But I still wanted to see the property, so one day we decided to have brunch at the Seasons Restaurant, recently voted the best hotel restaurant in Turkey…

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Located near two main tourist attractions, the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, this hotel is actually a converted old prison. Thank goodness the architects a century ago opted for a neoclassically designed building to incarcerate their criminals… The bones of this building were the beginning, but the extensive work on the interiors and gardens are what make it just fantastic! Entering this hotel after a morning of sightseeing and extensive walking in increasingly warm weather was like being enveloped in bolts worth of Italian silk. Cool, calm, luxurious and the complete opposite of hanging out in a down and dirty neighborhood produce market. Yes, we (MM, Mrs. MM and The Kid) all have a genetic weakness for luxury hotels. I once lived on and off for the better part of a year at a Four Seasons Hotel while working, and I can tell you THAT beats owning or renting a house ANY DAY, hands down.

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During the day, the garden setting of the restaurant made it bright, airy and cheerful. And the evening setting, with gardens lit up, must be incredibly dramatic as well.

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We were fortunate to score a terrace table and proceeded to surgically attack the wonderful buffet as though we had been deprived of food for weeks beforehand (which was untrue, we had been eating very well all along the trip!).

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The cold appetizers, salads and sweets were all laid out inside the restaurant, while grilling and pasta stations were set up outdoors in the gardens.

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The executive chef himself, along with a phalanx of other chefs prepared the pastas and other dishes themselves. Service was impeccable. And I mean impeccable. Only at top restaurants like Per Se or Le Bernardin would I feel like I should tip more than 20% of the total tab due to spectacular, unobtrusive, attentive, anticipatory service done so naturally.

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Mrs. MM’s first plate included artichokes, tomatoes, eggplant, beets, shrimp, capsicums and a samphire salad, a green often mistaken as a type of seaweed and even called sea asparagus, but it grows on land. My appetizer dish (photo up top) was chock full of asparagus, carpaccio, prosciutto, salmon, melon, buffalo mozzarella and mixed citrus segments and everything was just terrific from a taste and visual perspective.

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Hot courses included some pasta and grilled chicken…

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…grilled lamb and other chops with rice and vegetables… but can you tell our sparely populated main course plates was strategically done in order to indulge in as many desserts out of the 40+ on offer?!

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The Kid went overboard with berries and had a raspberry and pistachio tart, a berry cake, fresh strawberries and of course, a dark chocolate mousse of some sort to round it all out!

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Marketman was ready to explode, oh did I mention the never ending flow of the best freshly squeezed orange juice?, but I couldn’t resist the beautiful blackberry tart, a lemon macaroon and a bizarre marshmallow with berry dip.

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Mrs. MM had more custard, mousses and chocolate choices, with a bit of strawberries for color. Ayayay, you can just imagine how full we were after this lunch. It was excellent…

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A quick stop in one of the most opulent “public” bathrooms, and a snapshot of these Jeff Leatham style roses in the hotel’s foyer, and we emerged back into the streets of Istanbul…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Jenny says:

    Lovely flowers in the last photo

    Sep 28, 2008 | 9:21 am

     
  2. RoBStaR says:

    the bottom of the three are beautiful roses.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 10:48 am

     
  3. Jonathan says:

    I have a weakness for luxury hotels myself. Thanks for letting us enjoy this opulent hotel vicariously through you! That raspberry pistachio tart is divine looking, damn I want one right now.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 11:06 am

     
  4. wysgal says:

    Wow for a $1200 a night hotel the exteriors don’t look all that fancy …

    Sep 28, 2008 | 11:22 am

     
  5. witsandnuts says:

    I love the desserts! And the flowers are lovely. =)

    Sep 28, 2008 | 12:32 pm

     
  6. estella says:

    wow, i felt like i had a wonderful lunch there myself! your pictures look sooo appetizing!

    Sep 28, 2008 | 4:29 pm

     
  7. peachy bretaña says:

    my mouth watered looking at all the photos :)

    Sep 28, 2008 | 4:58 pm

     
  8. shalimar says:

    oh oh must add this on my list for my Istanbul visit. Lately I have been checking the swanky hotels here in Ft Lauderdale. Only one hotel so far offers brunch and its on the rooftop.
    I just discovered Ritz Carlton restaurant and for 2 months they offer a three course meal for $35 plus tax & gratuity.
    I could not leave the lobby yesterday because of the floral arrangements……

    As part of my learning experience I do check services on these kind of hotels….

    Sep 28, 2008 | 6:40 pm

     
  9. lee says:

    wow. this requires masterful pacing and high e.q. to get through all the different offerings.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 7:37 pm

     
  10. Marketman says:

    okay lee, what is your strategy for the eyeball? Eat as much as you can in 15 minutes, or eat slowly over say 1.5 hours??? :)

    Sep 28, 2008 | 7:39 pm

     
  11. zena says:

    Your plate of appetizers looks so pretty and healthy. I can usually just live off of the appetizer selection, skip the entree and go straight to dessert, hehe. The berries looks so yummy. Especially the tarts. And the flowers are simply arranged yet make such a statement.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 9:41 pm

     
  12. Tricia says:

    I love the dessert!!!

    Yours & the kid’s look really yummy, the berries are so fresh! I saw a buffet quite similar to this at Peninsula HK.

    I wonder how much per person do they charge for the buffet at Four Seasons Sultahnamet?

    Sep 29, 2008 | 12:08 am

     
  13. alicia says:

    Following your footsteps…
    My husband and I have been promising ourselves to get to Istanbul and the Four Seasons for the past ten years or so , when we saw the property featured in Architectural Digest years back we knew we wanted to stay there. I have heard that they opened another Four Seasons by the river as well. But time passes and with so many things to do, people and other places to see, we have not made it there quite yet. Am optimistic though! A year after you wrote all your posts on Barcelona, we made it there and enjoyed many of the treats you featured , so who knows… 2009 might be our year for exploring Turkey!

    Wysgal, the exterior might seem a little plain because if memory serves me right, the hotel is housed in a former prison. There may be some conservationist issues that they cannot change the facade. Check the interiors and rooms out online.. opulent and mysterious!!!

    Sep 29, 2008 | 7:38 am

     
  14. lee says:

    I cannot think of an eating strategy for the eyeball… HELP!!

    Sep 29, 2008 | 9:23 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    lee, you must check with Joey of 80breakfasts… she has the eating strategy for large meals such as eyeballs down to a science! :)

    Sep 29, 2008 | 9:58 am

     
  16. evel says:

    thanks for sharing your turkey experience with us…i love the flower arrangements!

    Sep 29, 2008 | 8:14 pm

     
  17. deirdregurl says:

    you mean marketman, there is a scientific approach to buffet eating? goodness, i should learn & quick! ;)

    Oct 1, 2008 | 1:32 pm

     
 

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