Review: Neolokal

22 December 2015

I had decided awhile ago I was gonna “skip” Christmas this year, and part of that was to go somewhere “not” celebrating Christmas. And that choice for this December was Istanbul. After a rather bumpy and fast trans-Atlantic to Deathrow and a very trying, hot and uncomfortable flight by Turkish Airlines, I got to Istanbul.

Got to my hotel and got ready to get to dinner, which I had booked in advance, at a place known for interesting cooking called Neolokal. Located at the SALT Galata Museum complex, it was not very easy to find at first (lack of signage). But I found it and was seated soon. The view over the city was excellent, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. I ordered a cocktail and relaxed…

Things began extremely well with a rather nice-smelling smoked negroni, which was excellent. I chilled with it and made my food choices. I was thinking of the tasting menu, but I wanted some other items, so went a la carte. Also ordered some good local wines by the glass to pair with the items in anticipation.

Chilled out a bit before the first item arrived, and it looked good.

1-taramasalata-haddock

This was a smoked haddock dish, graced with taramasalata and bottarga. Nice tasting, though both the taramasalata and bottarga were a bit too underrepresent and did not become prominent with the strong tasting fish. Anyway, a good dish, with a nice local white. We kept the white for the next item.

2-anchovies

Fried anchovies. These were delicious, as of course you can eat the whole thing. I like the approach, though I almost wished there were more pieces as they are so nice.

So far so good! Though the seemingly “weak” wooden floor made it uncomfortable as when waiters walk around it sounded like a drum and there’s always that fear it was about to give… No matter, more food and drink. I then switched to a red in anticipation for my main, and it soon arrived. Now lamb shank is something you cannot imagine done poorly in Turkey…

3-lamb

Pretty good, strong lamb taste (which I love). The wheat pilaf was a nice touch, with a lot of fruit accents (apple especially) in this dish. Not bad at all for my first dinner on this leg of the trip.

I enjoyed myself and ordered a coffee and rakı to come after the dessert, which I surprisingly ordered.

This is a take on the Turkish keşkül, and it was not quite what I expected — as the almond milk pudding was dehydrated as well as in ice cream format. There was a healthy amount of cinnamon too. Didn’t really work for me. Oh well, the rakı was a good end.

I risked my neck walking down the very steep hill back down towards the Golden Horn, and hopped back onto the Metro at the middle of the legendary waterway to head back to my hotel. Little did I know things would turn so much in the next few hours, from having fun drinking at the hotel bar, to having to make a 3am room change as smoke began inundating my room…

This, sadly, was the harbinger of what’s to come for the next 3 nights in Istanbul…and it wasn’t good…

Neolokal
SALT Galata
Bankalar Caddesi 11, Karaköy
İstanbul, Türkiye

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