There are only a few times in our lives that we allow ourselves to be led by another without an inkling of fear or mistrust. We extend a hand to close our eyes, follow in order to discover; for it is only when we leave the tight circle of our usual expectation that magic can finally manifest itself.
We usually do not think of eating as such a journey, to give ourselves over to a chef in order to bask in palatal reactions we did not even know we were capable of. However, Nicole Restaurant is that kind of journey, a true haute cuisine path toward culinary magic.
The automatic doors open on the first floor of Tom Tom Suites, a modern boutique hotel, whose glass elevator marks the beginning of upward progression. On the top floor, the simple décor of Nicole is complemented by a subtle view of the Old City, and the faint color spectrum landscape of Istanbul’s old houses. Upon each table, the angles of shimmering silverware, the thin globes of wine glasses, and the oval aura of small potted plants all abide willingly to geometrical perfection.
And then the tasting menu begins, which, on average lasts anywhere from two and a half to three hours. Depending on your physical capabilities, a short or long option is available. Each dish is also paired with a Turkish wine selected especially from brands that have a local stance and exhibit ingenuity in taste and philosophy. At this point, it is a tad futile to classify the menu according to a certain theme or cuisine, for what chefs Kaan Sakarya and Aylin Yazıcıoğlu create could be described more correctly as a whimsical yet overtly professional play with seasonal ingredients that they select themselves from the city’s organic markets or local producers.
The result is a menu that changes every six weeks, in which tastes are prepared on such simple terms that each ingredient presents itself confidently and every flavor relationship is strong and easily perceptible. From the carrot salad with a brush-stroke of feta and cumin, to the goose with beetroots quince, and rose hip jus, the menu is a carefully planned journey, where utter trust in the expertise of the kitchen is rewarded with one of the most unforgettable gustatory experiences imaginable.
If all of that did not suffice, the sweet ending, dipping between a cold globe of sweet grapefruit sorbet and the rich tendencies of warm chocolate mousse and chestnut puree, is the perfect conclusion. And that is all we are willing to divulge, because the rest of Nicole’s story is yours to live and remember, either with your eyes closed or open. Tomtom Suites, Boğazkesen Caddesi Tomtom Kaptan Sokak No. 18, Tom Tom; P: (0212) 292 44 67