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…
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
Hot courses included some pasta and grilled chicken…
…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?!
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!
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.
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…
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…