There are many corners of this city that are food destinations, and between Cihangir and Beyoglu-Tunel neighborhoods there are many alternatives that make the choice a rather difficult one.
When I can’t decide what to have, or for the lunch meetings with friends whose likes I am not very familiar with, my safe bet almost invariably is Istanbul Culinary Institute. It is an ‘institute’ where the future aspiring chefs are cooking in the apprentice restaurant downstairs.
The daily changing menu is a great reflection of the varied nature of the Turkish cuisine. They use only the seasons’ fresh produce, and some of it come directly from their own organic agricultural gardens in Saros on the northern Aegean. They have some very simple dishes like widely known Turkish soups, and dolma (stuffed green leaves with meat); along with creative and eclectic menu items like ‘Jerusalem artichoke stew with yogurt lemon sauce’. From March 2011 on, they have launched a monthly changing menu with matching wine suggestions for each item on the menu.
On the first floor there is a gourmet corner where you can purchase freshly made jams, compote, pickles and bakery. In the mornings you can have a Turkish style breakfast with freshly baked mini corn breads and pastries; or get a snack pack to go.
The Institute organizes cooking classes for amateurs and culinary tours to various cities of Turkey. They also have pre-scheduled half-day culinary walking tours, where you can learn about and experience Turkish style fresh produce markets and street food.