Tapasuma lies alongside the Bosphorus and has unenviable views of the water. It is the newest addition to boutique hotel Sumahan on the Water. The restaurant is housed within a nineteenth century Ottoman distillery, and the industrial origins have been sympathetically enhanced during the renovation. The name has been chosen to reflect the building’s history with ‘tapa’ meaning cork and ‘suma’ being the first distillation when producing raki.
Tall, Dark and Handsome escorted me down the curved marble staircase that leads into Tapasuma, and it opened into an area with a fireplace, divans, contemporary kilims and low tables. We passed alongside the impressive eight metre long bar, made of white marble with deep green veins running though it and were seated at our table.
The long, slim interior has tall picture windows with views over the outside dining area and the Bosphorus. The vaulted ceiling graces taupe fabric ceiling fans, the steel columns and the earthly paint colours compliment the exposed brick and stone work. Hues of grey, pale green and off-white are relaxing and work well within the space. Located in the Cengelkoy district on the Asian side of Istanbul, the restaurant offers diners a rather romantic water taxi service. The private Sumahan launch had whisked us over from the European side of the city to the Asian one. Certainly a pleasant way to avoid the bridge traffic.
Once we’d ordered drinks we were introduced to Chef Gokay Cakiroglu, who offers a tempting menu of traditional yet modern Turkish fare. We left our starters in his capable hands. Although, we did sneak a peak at the hot and cold tapas dishes that were displayed along the bar, and made our secret choices! To accompany the upbeat ‘impro-jazz’ we supped a margarita and a mojito and nibbled on some freshly baked olive tapenade thins.
Our surprise cold starter arrived looking colourful and playfully presented. We had a delightful selection: zucchini flowers stuffed with soft cheese, towers of octopus, a green pepper dolma, some marinated sea bass with saffron, and a sculpted artichoke heart stuffed with acili ezme - a Turkish style tomato dip. It was all delicious and perfectly complimented by the Sevilen Isabey Sauvignon Blanc from Izmir, that had been recommended by our waiter, Sedat. The wine was full flavoured but light with hints of apricot and autumn and was wonderful.
Our next treat was an unexpected hot meze plate. This consisted of Ottomon style lamb, covered in crushed wheat and sitting on sieved tomato, with yoghurt and fresh thyme on top. An anchovy borek made with filo pastry, and some deep fried crab jumping through a hoop of deep fried Kars cheese - with some sweet and sour sauce. It was rich and tasty.
Hoping we’d not gorged too much on our double starters we awaited our main courses. TDH had chosen the roasted lamb shank with mashed cracked wheat, fresh herbs, fresh dates, “Murdum” plum, apricot and oregano lamb sauce. It surprised us both by arriving without a bone. It was arranged in a regular tower of moulded meat, in the style of pulled pork that had been tipped out of a tuna tin. Although not tantalizing looking, it was scrumptious. I had the grilled beef tenderloin, marinated in herbs with asparagus beetroot mashed potato, zucchini flowers stuffed with mushrooms and a demi glace sauce. The meat was beautiful – thick and perfectly cooked. The mash was alarmingly luminous but delicious in spite of the purple hue. The red wine we opted for was the Urla Vourla Cabinet Sauvingnon. The bottle had a slick label with the fingerprint of the owner enlarged on it. The wine itself was rather tight in taste, it was definitely too cold and didn’t appear to have been left to breathe. It was rather 2D and a flat follow up to the near perfection of the earlier white wine.
TDH opted for his favoured bitter chocolate soufflé although he didn’t seem very taken with. I ordered the white chocolate and chestnut envelope which was predominantly thick white chocolate. It slightly set my teeth on edge with the hit of sugar and I found myself pushing it around the plate a little – it would be perfect for the Milky Bar Kid. To cut through our sweets, we were given a home-made cherry liquor. It was Christmasy and warming with a hint of cloves and was delicious!
The restaurant was busy with young couples and groups of friends chatting away happily. Tapasuma would be good for lunch, for intimate evening dining or in a large group. We had a lovely meal and look forward to return there to dine outside in the Summer. The staff were fantastic, and we were attended to with absolute precision. This restaurant really does feel like a treat and the whole journey by boat to and from the European side only adds to the magical feel. I’m looking forward to taking guests there later this year.