Listening to classic Zeki Müren songs lightly playing in the background, eavesdropping on the conversations of tourists sitting at the next table, enjoying deliciously creative mezes in the nostalgic atmosphere of Pera. That is the Meze By Lemon Tree experience.
A niche in the world of Istanbul’s meyhanes, Meze By Lemon Tree is different from the classic meze joint: it’s very traditional and very modern at the same time. The Meze kitchen is based on the idea of creating experimental dishes without straying too far from traditional codes of the Turkish cuisine. As such, classic Turkish ingredients and recipes are used in order to create fun and inventive dishes. There are 14 mezes on offer on a daily basis, of which there are three or four classic mainstays (like şaman bayıldı, which we’ll get to a little later). The meze repertoire covers 50 different mezes, and the daily choices depend on the season’s offerings.
The experience starts with the waiter escorting you from your white-table-clothed table to the display of mezes, explaining the ingredients of all of them enthusiastically and helping you make a choice. Once you have the mezes covered, it’s time to decide whether you’ll pair them with rakı or wine. One of the things that set Meze By Lemon Tree apart is that the dishes here are created with wine in mind: most mezes and mains are suitable for wine pairing, and they have a list of Turkish wines mainly from the Tekirdağ region for your enjoyment.
As you sit and converse at one of the tables in this small locale and watch the crowds walk by from Pera to Şişhane with the grand Pera Palace sitting on the foreground, the mezes arrive on beautiful geometric plates. Of the 50 different mezes, some of the highlights are the smoked trout pate with almonds and mustard, wrapped in grilled leaves of oyster mushroom. The classic şaman bayıldı (fried sweet green pepper filled with cheese (made in the Ezine region), pistachios, and fresh onion), with its juicy sweet freshness, is a definite must-try. The refreshingly fruity sea bass ceviche is cooked with lime juice and served with grapefruit slices and capers. Eggplant lovers should certainly try their fried eggplant rolls sautéed with mustard, filled with damson and leer fish. The meze classic kısır (bulgur salad typically made with fresh onions, parsley, tomato paste, and spices) is served wrapped in swiss chard with pomegranate molasses. Hot starters include a very tender fried calamari, fried beef liver topped spices and served with sumac-onion salad, and a baked pastry stuffed with cheese and aubergine.
Of the mains, the sea bass fillet enveloped in paper with apricots and almonds, a light yet sweet dish, comes highly recommended. Those who want something high on carbs could go for the seasoned wheat pilaf with mixed sea food, made with fresh onions, lemon, bay leaf, white wine, cumin and a changing list of seafood, such as angler fish and sword fish.
Whether you go for wine or rakı, if you’ve been in search of creative food presented elegantly in a cool atmosphere with impeccable service, you will find your niche with Meze By Lemon Tree.
Meze By Lemon Tree, Asmalımescit Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Caddesi 83/B, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 252 83 02