Part-restaurant, part-museum, Rustik Cafe in Kadıköy serves a delicious collection of flavors, creating for customers hearty Russian and Ukrainian meals with a side dish of cultural insight. The food prepared in Rustik’s kitchen is made by a professional chef from Ukraine, Mariya. Some well-known staples like Russian salad are available, as well as shuba salad, which contains potatoes, pickled herring, eggs, beets, and carrots. Borscht soup, common in Eastern Europe and made with beets, beef, potato, and vegetables, is also on the menu.
For the main meal, try the pelmeni, or meat-filled Russian dumplings. The vegetarian alternative is the vareniki, which has a potato and vegetable filling. If opting for a meat entrée, the kievski is a buttered, baked, then fried chicken fillet. At the end of the meal, enjoy the medovik, a layered cake made with honey and condensed milk, which pairs nicely with a Turkish coffee or tea and serves as a sweet reminder you are still in Istanbul.
It is not only the food that invites you to feel as if you are in a different country, but also the decor and mementos on display. A timeless photograph of Turkish author Nazım Hikmet and his lover, Vera Tulyakov, invite you through the doors. Take a look around and see the clothing, hats, and shoes used by the Soviet army during wartime. Along the walls are posters of famous Russians, such as cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and poet Aleksandr Pushkin. The owner of the restaurant, Erdem Bekdaş, told The Guide Istanbul that his favorite collectible is a concert banner of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
Rustik is appealing for those eager to learn about Russia, whether through a taste of its cuisine, a look through the owner’s collectibles, or a chat with Russian regulars enjoying a meal. In this sense, the roles of local and foreigner are spun around at Rustik, giving guests a fresh taste of something new
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