The city of Istanbul celebrates and preserves Palaces, gardens and mosques of the once reigning grand Sultans. Asitane Restaurant celebrates the cuisine of the Ottoman Empire. Located in the historic Edirnekapi district, sitting in the shadow of the Chora Church, famous for its mosaics and frescoes, the restaurant is famous for its classic recipes based on court cuisine. The Asitane terrace is summer dining heaven, the garden is perfect for lunch or dinner; the dining room looks like a cozy spot for winter, but the garden is the ideal spot for alfresco meals.
In the thirteen years that it has been open, Asitane Restaurant is now able to boast an impressive archive comprised of over 200 forgotten sweet and savory recipes, which are prepared in keeping with the cooking methods of 500 years ago.
Nearly one hundred recipes had to be discarded or modified in order to either suit today’s modern palate, or simply because the ingredients no longer exist in this day and age. The menu now features dishes originally prepared for the sumptuous celebration feast given for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s two sons, Bayezid II and Þah Cihangir, at Edirne Palace in November 1539.
Extensive research was undertaken in the kitchen registries from the archives of Topkapý and Dolmabahçe Palaces were scoured for recipes, and relevant documentation was found in Istanbul’s Beyazýt and Millet libraries. Additional important sources of information for the duration of the preparation period were dug up using old Ottoman dictionaries, the written historic accounts of various statesmen, medical practitioners and soldiers.
The historic aspect is amazing, and the task of recreating these recipes seems insurmountable, but Asitane manages to make Imperial cuisine absolutely divine! Lucky diner me, a new friend in Istanbul took me to dinner here and the owner sat down for a glass of wine and ended up sitting for dinner…thus, I tasted a wonderful medley of delicious menu items- chef/owner tasting menu! Almond soup, which sounds like an odd dish, was delicate and smooth as silk and a perfect starter. Little bites of chicken dishes, classic pilaf, red mullet fish stuffed and steamed en papiolette, saffron almond rice, shepherds salad…each dish was beautifully presented, staff is polite and fun, all enthusiastic about the uncommon idea of using recipes from ancient manuscripts.
In a funny the world is small moment, all the chefs came to our table to be introduced… SF A16 chef is now the head chef at Asitane, now how small world is that? Modern SF chef preparing Ottoman cuisine half way across the world!
Make a date in Istanbul to visit Asitane- every bite is excellent, each dish photo worthy and the wonderful wait staff will make you feel like royalty! Imperial Cuisine reigns in Istanbul, all is good in the empire of Asitane.