Classic as well as post-modern, gastro-sensational but still for the masses. That is what chef and owner Murat Bozok brought together in SALT’s Bistro.
Following his success at Mimolett, a fine-dining restaurant that serves Mediterranean and French cuisine, Bozok opened Bistro in the very-artsy, very-intellectual SALT a few months ago. But you don’t have to appreciate animated discussions or even art to enjoy the food at Bistro. You only need to be able to appreciate the art of food.
We were awestruck by Bistro when we went there for lunch last Friday: the restaurant, which was quite calm with only a few tables occupied, had a modern-loft feeling. The tall windows coupled with the high-ceilings make this relatively small space look and feel much more spacious than it actually is.
We were in for a quick and light lunch, and the inventive menu made it a bit difficult to pick just one dish. So we decided to share a starter, an appetizer, and a main. As we were waiting for our starter to arrive, we nibbled on the scrumptious homemade breads. I loved the one with cinnamon and walnuts, while my lunch companion couldn’t get enough of the ones with dried tomatoes.
Soon enough, the Cacık Soslu Falafel (Falafel with “Yogurt” Sauce) arrived. Although I was anticipating something more similar to the ball-shaped, crunchy, fried Israeli falafel, what we had was a much more elegant version of this street food. Rather than ball-shaped, the falafel came in patties and had a puree-like filling, and looked like a perfect hors d’oeuvre with a Turkish twist. Instead of hummus, the falafel dish was served with a thin yogurt and cucumber sauce and a tomato sauce that’s reminiscent of the sauces on mantı and kebab dishes. Although deep fried, the falafel tasted so light that we had to double-check with the waiter whether it was in fact deep fried.
The Narlı Buğday Salatası (Wheat Salad with Pomegranate) was a winner right from the start with its extravagant presentation. But it was the popcorn that made it for me. Seriously, what a fantastic addition to a salad! We couldn’t help but admire the creativity of chef Murat Bozok as this light salad spoke to each part of our taste buds: it first tasted slightly sweet, then a subtle lemony tanginess rushed in, and the crunch of the popcorn brought it all to a glorious finale.
Following the salad, which was no doubt the highlight of the meal, we had Şarap Soslu Karamelize Tavuk (Caramelized Chicken with Wine Sauce) as our main. The vegetables that came with the chicken were too salty, and the chicken was only slightly overcooked.
Although we made do with three dishes, there is a lot more on Bozok’s menu that is waiting to be savored. On my next visit to Bistro, I plan on trying a regional take on a classic Italian dish, the İzmir Tulum Peynirli Lazanya (Lasagne with “İzmir Tulum” cheese). Whether you’re at SALT to see their latest exhibition or just strolling around Beyoğlu, stop by Bistro for high-quality food that is still affordable.