Karakoy Lokantasi

Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh., Kemankeş Cd No:37/A, İstanbul, Turkey • +90 212 292 4455 • karakoylokantasi.com
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Karakoy is the dark horse of Istanbul if you ask me, which suits it nicely since the direct translation of its name is “dark village.” Such an unlikely, industrial waterfront turned so hip it could easily give Brooklyn a run for its money, filled with one incredible restaurant after another, a stunning, refurbished Hamam turned spa, and unique boutiques speckled throughout.

Yet, amidst all of the funkier, cooler restaurants there lies a much lower key option, not trying too hard to live on the edge, delivering all your classic meze with excellent service and a simple, inviting, understated (comparatively) décor.

That said, the mezes themselves were a bit on the hit and miss side, not quite living up to the raves. My favorite being the smoked bonito fish with red onion (lakerda). Perhaps it’s the latent Jew in me, responding to the reminiscent flavors of sable and red onions atop a bagel and cream cheese… Cue Homer Simpson drooling noises.

After that, both the mustard pickled levrek (sea bass) and the grilled octopus proved to be a solid yum, while the yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves) and sigara boregi (phyllo dough stuffed with feta) proved to be nothing memorable.

The only flat out miss was the midye dolma (stuffed mussels), which is normally my favorite meze of all mezes. But I have to say these might’ve been the worst I’ve ever had. I mean they really shat the seabed on this one. So much so that they should foot the bill to fly in Sehmus, the Midye Whisperer of Bodrum, to teach them how it’s done.

But back on a positive note, the cacik (yogurt and herbs) was thick and creamy, just the way I like it. Granted I like the more soupy version well- okay, I like practically anything with yogurt, but this was definitely on the better end of the cacik spectrum. In fact the only other I can claim was as good was at Beyoglu in New York. Also, the fig dessert (pictured) with kaymak was pretty tasty as well.

So not exactly an out-of-the-way must. And I can’t say I’m even sure that it’s better than the scads of much cooler looking places all around it, but after a glass or two of Ala Yeni Raki who even cares?

3 teeth

 

Back Forty

70 Prince St. New York, NY 10012(212) 219-8570backfortynyc.com

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My experience here was somewhat atypical considering I’ve only been for a private event. That said, most everything they served was off of their menu, so my review should be somewhat accurate.

Starting with the drinks, Back Forty served up some perfect tens. Just awesome, inventive twists on classics. Some margarita inspired, some mojito inspired and others just really-ass-good inspired. Pulling in a host of tricks using ginger beer, muddled strawberries and dare I say love.

As for the food, it was solid good. Nothing exceedingly memorable however, with the one exception being the pork belly fritters- I popped so many of these in my mouth hole it was like I was channeling my inner Harvey Weinstein.

And then there’s dessert. Which are all very good and everything, but let’s cut to the chase. It’s not all about that bass. It’s about the DONUTS!!! (to be read with Homer Simpson inflection). Had I not gone all Jabba on the pork fritters I would’ve easily pounded a half dozen of these suckers.

In other news, staff is friendly, decor is quaint and intimate and I probably should go back under normal circumstances before considering this an accurate review, but since I have no idea when that might be…

3 teeth