My favorite patisserie in Istanbul is İnci Pastanesi on Istiklal Caddesi. It is very popular with the local folks and with tourists as well because they have the best profiteroles in Turkey.
You will also find it in the novel ‘The Museum of Innocence’ of the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk as the two main characters – Kemal and Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation – go there too.
I frequent the place for another reason as well: it stubbornly refuses to comply with the modern interior design requirements and retains its original atmosphere. When I am there I am back in the 1950’s when the pace of life was slower and people were more polite to each other. Yesterday I was there again and I enjoyed the nostalgia of days gone by.
But this culinary landmark has a sword of Damocles hanging above its future. The fate of this historical patisserie rests on a local court decision.
Emekli Sandığı (Retirement Trust), the owner of the building where İnci Pastanesi is located, has decided to rent the entire building for 49 years to a single firm which will also undertake work to restore the building. All shops renting space there have been asked to vacate the premises. And the building will be converted into a modern shopping mall. We don’t need any more shopping centers on Istiklal Avenue! İnci Pastanesi is courageously resisting in court. Thumbs up for them.
İnci Pastanesi is one of the last shops that keeps its doors open in this 136-year-old Baroque- and Rococo-style building, constructed in 1884 by the well-known French-Turkish architect Alexandre Vallaury, whose father was a renowned pastry cook!
Vallaury also built the legendary Pera Palas Hotel and Café Lebon (from 1940 on Café Marquise – Markiz Pastanesi) among others.
The grand, neglected building was used as a hunters’ club, a gymnasium and a venue for Nouveau Cirque (New Circus), before becoming home in 1924 to the Angel (Melek) Cinema, which changed its name to Emek Cinema in the 1940s. The well-known movie theater had to shut down in early 2010 for the same reasons İnci now risks closure. Cinema lovers unsuccessfully organized protests and signature campaigns to try and save the theater.
For all of you who love to enjoy a great profiterole, drop in and enjoy in the mean time the era of yesteryear that will soon be gone on Istiklal.
Istiklal Caddesi 56