Our first recommendation is a bit unconventional. It resides in Yalikavak, Bodrum. I know, I know, this is supposed to be about food in Istanbul, but we cannot start this blog without mentioning our all-time favourite—the righteous Kavaklı Köfteci.
Piyaz (Bean Salad, with onions and tomatoes)
Açık Ayran (Traditonal Turkish drink which Kavaklı serves “open” or fresh)
This menu, complemented by their perfectly toasted bread, is the meat-lovers dream. It’s for people who can swallow the beauty of simplicity. This brief menu does not make one wish there was more choice. Instead, it leaves you saying “What more could there be?”
At Kavakli you will be asking for more and more portions of their ‘just-right’ meat—dark on the outside and pinkish on the inside. They have these brilliant, cooked tomatoes next to them which make you never want to have ketchup again. But that’s about it.
Their ‘piyaz’ is basic, as it should be! Do not underestimate or overwork piyaz. I ate at a chain meatball place last week, Edirne Kırkpınar Köftecisi in Levent, and the piyaz was overflowing with an abundance of unnecessary sauces. I took my first bite unenthusiastically, and quickly decided it would be my last. Piyaz should compel you to stubbornly dip your bread, in denial that its over until you order another one. (Note to piyazlovers: the only dressing on piyaz should be the ones you add yourself-salt, grape vinegar, and olive oil.)
The fresh ayran is the ultimate complement to this meal. Essentially, Acik ayran is to Köfte what Cabernet Sauvignon is to filet mignon.
Kavaklı Köfteci deserves all this praise and more as it fulfills all our expectations without boring us with superfluous selection.
Though we would love to see it expand to Istanbul, this restaurant is truly one of a kind with just a single ‘şübe’, or location.