For a long time quality restaurants were hard to find in Istanbul. International hotel chains did their best and sometimes they operated a restaurant with a fine cuisine. But quality was not always maintained, and not all the staff in the kitchens and at the tables was professionally trained.
Much has been improving lately. There are more restaurants with ambitious chefs and owners. The number of vocational schools and universities where young Turks can study gastronomy and culinary arts is growing and in 2007 Istanbul opened its first wine academy.
The Kayra Wine Academy is located in the same building as the exclusive Mimolett restaurant of Murat Bozok – the partner and chef of Mimolett – who worked in prestigious hotels in Boston and New York, and five years at Gordon Ramsey in London.
Mimolett started in December 2009 and is a temple of earthly pleasures in the hip Cihangir neighbourhood of Istanbul. It is located in a centennial historical building which was previously the house of the first governor of Istanbul.
This restaurant makes you forget your everyday troubles. It is like a temple where guests enjoy culinary delights in a welcoming atmosphere. All your senses will be pleased and pampered. Mimolett aspires to win the first Michelin star in Turkey and to have the best wine boutique in Turkey too.
To fulfill this ambition chef Murat Bozok is always looking for improvements and seeking advice from established stars. Therefore he invited Dutch chef Soenil Bahadoer for a guest appearance. Bahadoer’s restaurant Lindehof in Nuenen was awarded a Michelin star several years ago.
Bahadoer was instantly enthusiastic about Mimolett. “It is a wonderful restaurant. It looks really great and professional. The staff is nice. And I love the majestic and sophisticated interior and exterior design. They have a rich collection of 400 wines from Turkey and from abroad as well.”
There is an impressive Murano Chandelier. Purple velvet curtains, dark brown wooden floors, white linen tablecloths, mosaic mirrors and remarkable paintings are the details complementing the interior decoration. A Bosporus view is accompanying the terrace.
In order to raise the quality for a Michelin star, there are still some improvements to be made, Bahadoer observes. He has several suggestions. “The kitchen staff should improve its knowledge of products. They should get better ingredients. There should be more discipline in the kitchen. And they should invest in more modern equipment in the kitchen. It would be nice for the staff to have some internships at quality restaurants. These are some of the prerequisites for a consistency in high quality of the menus the restaurants offers”.
Furthermore Bahadoer would love to see candles on the dining tables and less tableware to give the guests more space to eat.
People who have enjoyed Bahadoer’s cuisine before characterize him as “a daredevil in the kitchen’.
He dares to experiment with a variety of flavors. He says ‘for me to cook is to make a revolution’. He is always looking for new tastes trying to make new, exciting combinations. He focuses on French cuisine and combines it with Hindustani spices and herbs.
The menu he prepared for his guest appearance at Mimolett was an example of his cooking style.
As appetizers: pea soup, sea bass, crispy potatoes and cream of cauliflower with curry and fried scallops.
The starter was a combination of fried, crispy tuna with different structures of cucumber, sake pad, Japanese alga, wakame and yuzu cream emulsion. With that came a glass of “Terra de France”, a French fruity Sauvignon Blanc (2008) from the Loire region.
Then a slow cooked and glued double sole with Indian spices and a tandoori croute. In addition Taggiasche olive, cream Morjon sardines, tomatoes and balsamic vinegrette. With it excellent Kayra Vintage, Chardonnay. A wine from the western Turkish region of Thrace, on the border with Greece. The wine is produced like in California: eight to nine months in oak barrels and one year in the bottle.
As an intermediate dish we had a Japanese Nobashi soaked shrimp with a coconut-masala soup, minced green papaya and green mango, cannelloni bean sprouts, young coconut, soy sauce and red pepper, and cream and masala mussels. With a lovely Rose: Terra Kalecik Karasi.
For the main course Soenil thought of Turkey and processed a whole lamb, from shoulder to the leg. With it roasted red and yellow peppers. In the Dutch kitchens they are fried, but here they are prepared in a traditional Turkish style: roasted on an open fire, giving them a nice caramelized flavor. Furthermore there was a cake of green curry and pepper jelly with a sauce of Medina. The sommelier recommended the most prestigious Kayra wine, the Imperial, a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2008 of which only 4,000 per year are bottled. A very good choice that went well with the lamb meat.
For dessert he prepared red fruit – strawberries and mulberries – a yoghurt sorbet with pink pepper, mojito souffle without alcohol, cremeux vanilla and citrus emulsion. With a delicious dessert wine: Kayra Tilsim, Misket.
The last guests left around midnight. Soenil and his staff had been showered with compliments. It was a beautiful evening of enjoying the innovative cuisine, flavors and combinations. I am sure that the guests agree with me, when I award the whole experience with an 8+.
Mimolett Restaurant was awarded to be the “Best Restaurant of 2010” by Time Out Istanbul Eating & Drinking Awards.
Siraselviler Caddesi No: 55 / A
Tel. 0212 245 98 58
Open: 7 pm – 11 pm, every day except Sundays