Munferit: Located At the Intersection of Jet-Set Central + Contemporary Turkish Cuisine (Istanbul)

Munferit: Located At the Intersection of Jet-Set Central + Contemporary Turkish Cuisine (Istanbul)

If you find yourself in Istanbul and want traditional and to-the-point mezze, well there’s no shortage of places in Fatih (where the Grand Bazaar and Hagia Sophia reside) or Beyoğlu to hit up. If you want a slick restaurant-come-supper-club with clientele so stunning you can’t help but gawk, well you need to head to Munferit.

Because that’s where all the beautiful people are.

Delicious. I'll apologize now for all the flash-tastic pics. There was no way to get a clear shot otherwise. Thankfully, I wasn't the only patron snapping my dinner.

Delicious. I’ll apologize now for all the flash-tastic pics. There was no way to get a clear shot otherwise. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only patron snapping my dinner.

Munferit – which means “unique” or “one of a kind” in Turkish – is a gourmet restaurant tucked away in Beyoğlu just off the bustling Istiklal corridor. Established by chef Ferit Sarper, it’s situated in a luxury townhouse and is a bar, club and restaurant all rolled into one. The decor is all marble tabletops, muted stone floors and art deco panels, which gives you the feeling that you’re in a rather posh version of your grandfather’s tavern. In terms of the food, on offer is Sarper’s creative menu of contemporary cuisine that has Mediterranean and European accents, but is 100% Turkish.

The idea of dining at Munferit (as my three colleagues and I found out) is to see, be seen and sample as much of the menu as possible. This is best done by ordering several dishes and sharing them with abandon. Options for starters include grilled octopus, smoky seared eggplant, grilled prawns with a side of chickpea purée and a helping of black couscous with calamari that’s laced with squid ink. For mains there’s chargrilled lamb, lettuce wrapped sea bass, a thick cut of sirloin and a fennel risotto. If you’re into bread (and unless you’re celiac or intolerant…who isn’t?) there’s baskets of the good stuff available that come from a village in Sarper’s home province. Each paring is served with a dollop of anchovy butter.

This is the bread people go nuts over.

This is the bread people go nuts over.

While I held off on the butter, I sampled the bread and can attest, it was pretty goddamned delicious.

The food is great and the wine selection good, but what I enjoyed most was people watching my evening away. Almost every other person who entered the restaurant was decked in out ready-to-wear items from that season’s Dior, Chanel, Céline and/or insert other luxury clothing label here. There was jeweled mohair and expensive cashmeres. Luxe silks and lavish wool.

And yes…this included the men as well. 

A colleague digging into her dessert. Her thoughts? "This is stupidly delicious."

A colleague digging into her dessert. Her thoughts? “This is stupidly delicious.”

We later learned that a high number of East European and Russian travellers/expats enjoy frequenting Munferit to blow their hard earned cash, and while they mainly go for the food they also show up for the DJ who pumps up the volume every Friday and Saturday night. In spite of the $3,000 outfits some of the patrons sported, the cost of a meal isn’t anything to grumble about. The four of us handed over about $190 in total (including drinks), which is pretty reasonable given the quality of the food and the service.

So if you’ve had your fill of Turkish street fare and are looking for something a little more upscale and trendy in the heart of Istanbul, join the fun-loving and party-going crowd at Munferit.

Just make sure to pack your fashion-forward rags, along with your appetite.

Munferit
Firuzaga Mahallesi
Yeni Carsi Caddesi No. 19
Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 252 5067