It’s a ballsy move to only have one item on your menu. Do it right and you’ll never be in need of customers. Do it wrong – well you’ll be closing up shop in no time. On our food tour of Istanbul, our guide (Yelp Istanbul CM Gulfem) took us to one such place for dinner – Iskender Kebab. Ask for a menu here (as we naïve tourists did) and they will just look at you and laugh.
As the name suggests, the sole dish on the menu is the Iskender kebab – a plate of sliced grilled meat served on a flat spongy bread and doused in melted butter. It’s not healthy by any means – in fact it’s about as far from it as you can get – but the taste is spectacular. And for about 30TL (£10) including a drink, you can’t really ask for a better deal.
There are a number of bars on this fairly posh street – take your pick. We actually opted to just stroll up and down to build up our appetite (we had been eating all day) but a few of the bars looked quite appealing. They are, on the whole, fairly noisy and had a strange habit of posting a guy with a bottle of tequila and shot glasses at a table out front. I couldn’t tell if it was to draw you in or if walk-by shots were a thing, but either way drinks aren’t hard to come by.
So about this kebab?
The meat was tender yet had a good sear with just a hint of char. The spongy bread absorbed both the meat’s juices and the melted butter with ease and may have been even tastier than the meat itself. I could have done without the tomato rice but the grilled mild chilli peppers were wonderful as were the refreshing chunks of tomato.
It’s a fork and knife type of deal (not the greasy doner you may have expected) and they’ve conveniently sliced up your bread into easy to eat chunks. I appreciate the forethought as you would otherwise be scraping away messily.
Afterwards, for dessert there is this awesome little sorbet shop down the street with the freshest, juiciest sorbets you’ll ever try. They make them in house and change the flavours based on whatever is seasonally available – it doesn’t get much better than that!
I reckon you could probably have got some beer or raki, but we chose to go with the traditional Turkish drink of Ayran. It’s essentially a runnier yoghurt with a very savoury taste. You add salt to your desired level and it’s quite cooling and light which makes it a great balance to the rich kebab.
Worth the dosh?
As with most things in Istanbul, yes it was. In fact, I’d have easily paid twice that in London for a meal of lesser quality. While the lack of choices may turn off some people (and kill it for veggies), it’s a simple meal with a decent atmosphere and an excellent option to line the stomach before a night out.
Find Iskender Kebab here
Köşk Sok. No: 349 D: 2