We arrived late into Istanbul due to flight delays so we missed our first dinner reservation in the city which I was really looking forward to. It was a place known for kebaps. Anyway, we got checked into the Bank Hotel; here is a short room tour.
The room was an executive suite and had a lot of old world charm. The only drawbacks were being on a lower floor and the shower did not drain properly which was very annoying. Other than that, the hotel provided some nice welcome gifts which was a nice touch. As we were starving, we headed downstairs and spoke to the front desk about dining options close by (getting around Istanbul is a huge problem which I will tell you about, and the solution, in a future post). I was excited to try all the Turkish food I had been researching. The front desk mentioned that most restaurants would be closed and suggested we eat at the hotel restaurant. This would be a recurring issue on the trip when dealing with people in the tourism industry. It seemed like they all wanted to steer you a certain way to either sell you something or provide the experience they think you want, instead of an authentic Turkish experience.
In any case, although I tend to avoid dining at hotel restaurants and love getting out and exploring, I did do some research on this particular one – Serica – and knew that it was new with a great view. As it was late and I was tired and hungry, I reluctantly agreed. Here was the menu.
The meal started with an amuse and bread.
One thing that I was excited about, was trying Turkish wine for the first time. My experience on this trip was there are some great ones out there.
The view from the restaurant did not disappoint.
The hotel is located near the Galata bridge and within walking distance to the main sights in the old part of the city including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Spice Market (overrated) and Topkapi Palace. In fact, you can see a lot of these places from the restaurant and the roof top bar which we went to after dinner. Here is a look at the open kitchen.
The first dishes were ordered were the pide (which is like Turkish pizza) and lamb kokorec.
The pide was absolutely delicious and prepared tableside.
The kokorec was just ok. I ordered it because I remembered the name from my research, but then I recalled what it was – lamb intestines and offal. Although I am not a picky eater, and will eat anything (except stinky tofu), this would not be my preference. After, we had the beef which was delicious.
After dinner, we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar with more nice views.
It was here that I got my first taste of the Turkish beverage Raki.
It reminded me a bit of the Greek Ouzo. We also had something I had never seen before, purple olives!
We chatted with the friendly bar staff for a bit about all things Turkey and Istanbul. They gave us some advice about where to go, eat etc and then we called it a night. Overall, I was happy with the hotel, especially the location, the rooftop bar I would recommend for drinks, and the restaurant was pretty good (and the service too). Day 2 coming up next…