Leo, from the front desk at my hotel, Hotel Miniature in Istanbul, recommended the Deraliye Ottoman Palace restaurant in Istanbul, amongst others on the day that I arrived, when I asked about nearby restaurants and cafes for dinner or light meals.
The Deraliye restaurant is located in Sultanahmet, and a minute away from the tram station. It is surrounded by hotels and other restaurants and the road it is on appears to be a popular thoroughfare for pedestrians moving around in the Old City. I must confess that I chose this one because it looked very elegant, light and modern compared to some of the others on the same street. I had expected the prices to be high given the stylish and elegant restaurant, but found them to be reasonable when compared to it’s neighbors.
The restaurant specializes in Ottoman palace cuisine and you truly get the flavor of old Istanbul. The food is prepared with care and attention and presented in the most appealing way, unlike the usual tourist style offerings of unremarkable kebabs. All the staff are able to communicate in English and are polite and courteous without being obnoxious. You may visit the restaurant’s website here.
They provide free bottled water and on the night, the complementary aperitif was an alcohol free pomegranate sherbet drink. The complementary bread was accompanied by an olive and walnut spread similar in texture to muhammara, but completely different in flavor notes; less spicy and sitting in a pool of olive oil.
My starter was Arefe koftesi; cracked wheat rolls stuffed with minced lamb, almonds, pistachios, currents and spices. It reminded me of Middle Eastern kibbeh, but tastier and with more complex flavors.
My main course was a lamb shank on a bed of smoky roasted aubergine puree in a crispy pastry basket. At first glance it did not look very appealing; too much beige and brown. However, do not judge a simply delicious dish by it’s coloring. The combination of the melt in the mouth, falling off the bone lamb with the smoky roasted aubergine nearly had me floating on air. Sounds melodramatic doesn’t it? Well, I was sitting there with my eyes closed savoring every mouthful, and hoping I would never get to the last bite.
My dessert of Helatiye was a pine mastic infused set pudding cut into bite sized pieces and served adrift in a pool of roasted almonds, pistachios, pomegranate seeds and seasonal fruits in a simple syrup flavored with rose water. It was recommended by the waiter as the perfect light dessert to end a very sumptuous and rich meal.
If you are ever in Istanbul, and want to experience carefully crafted delicious Ottoman palace food and exceptional service, you should pay a visit to Deraliye Restaurant.