The Bosphorus strait has been moving through the two continents that make up this city for centuries. Civilizations have come and gone, different governments, cultures, wars, vessels pulled by the wind to vessels pushed by a motor, and the water has remained unchanged. Million of eyes have set their sights on the color that changes, like the mercurial temperament of a woman, from an extinguished gray to the most perfect azure in winter to fall and on. The Bosphorus has always been there and will always remain and is undeniably the source that quenches the thirst of a bustling metropolis through sight and sound.
If such thoughts are conjured by the iconic image of that dividing body of water, it is also most natural that Istanbul’s food culture has grown around the curving waves of its waters. Fresh grilled fish accompanied by the view of the sea is an experience visitors speak of when they return to their homes and what locals long for when summer arrives.
In the Cihangir neighborhood, the Hotel Villa Zurich mostly blends into the facade of buildings that line the streets and is an unassuming center for one of the most worthy bird’s eye views of the city and the water. A short elevator ride up to the top floor, and an expansive wrap around terrace reveals itself totally under the name of Cihangir Balık, where the view extends from the historical district all the way to the Kadıköy coast on the Asian side. With the summer breeze raising a napkin or two from its place, the restaurant serves a fresh multitude of meze such as grilled octopus salad, samphire with olive oil and garlic, and fava (mashed broad beans with dill) among many others.
For mains, the attentive and friendly wait staff share the day’s catches and it can be said that for those who choose the grilled sea bass, a dish arrives in a state so soft, the fork is almost unable to do its work. Whether for lunch or dinner, with or without a glass of rakı, Cihangir Balık’s pairing of a fresh menu, smiling staff, and endless sea view, all hidden away on the top floor terrace, come together for a kind of Istanbul experience that is as timeless as the Bosporus. Akarsu Yokuşu Cd. No: 36, Cihangir; P: (0212) 293 4826