While the magnificent Haydarpaşa Garı is worth a trip on its own, I recommend going there to enjoy both the splendor of the station and the equally magnificent mezes of the Gar Lokantası.
The high ceilings, blue tiles and dim lighting set up the perfect ambiance in the room, as olive oil bottles that line the walls and the blue-and-white checkered tablecloths contribute to the Aegean inspiration. The tables get adorned with candlelight – nothing fancy, just a candlestick on a little plate, cozy enough for a traditional meyhane, where people get together around shared mezes, small platters of cold vegetable and olive-oil based dishes, and generous amounts of rakı, the wonderful anise-flavored drink.
On weekends, the restaurant has live fasıl music, where two gentlemen play old favorites, nothing like the cheesy Beyoğlu fasıls that you might encounter, but the real thing. A black-and-white Turkish movie is projected to a wall, further establishing the sense of nostalgia one can only get in an old restaurant in a train station.
The food here is also delightful – old favorites are coupled with not-so-familiar mezes, such as the maş piyazı, a mung bean and sour pomegranate sauce salad, or the crushed walnut-green olives meze. On weekends with live music, the restaurant only serves fixed menus; a salad to share, cheese and mezes, hot appetizers, fish casserole, dessert and rakı is included in the price.
The price is not the cheapest, but it’s totally worth the atmosphere, the music and the delicious food.