The restaurant I am writing about is called “Apartıman” meaning apartment building in Turkish because it is housed inside a family building with a nice garden in Yeniköy, Istanbul.
Fitting in an apartment; I enjoyed delicious seasonal local food, the warm beautiful space and the team that welcomed us in the best way. Here are the details about Apartıman …
I have always carefully chosen where I will stay and eat; I’ve never been anywhere by chance. I always try to find original, attentive and stable businesses and try to go there. Because we actually decide which business will continue to exist with the choices we make. I think this was my biggest motivation for writing about my experiences as a former business manager. I believe that places which find a different course and do their job with care and passion deserve development. Covid-19 pushed me to make even more meticulous choices. So, in this difficult period, I go to places that I know and trust, and in addition, I scrutinize and explore very few new places.
Since Apartiman’s opening three years ago, I have been respectfully following its meticulous practices. Recently it was possible to go and experience it in person.
Apartıman is the joint project of Burçak and Murat Kazdal, the youngest and oldest brothers of a crowded family. When the two brothers saw that their different education and work experiences converged on the axis of food and cuisine over time, they decided to implement what they wanted to do in the region where they lived. This is how Apartıman Yeniköy was born. Turning a family apartment into a meeting point in Yeniköy opened its doors in October 2017. As a result, they started to put into life everything they have accumulated here, from family to education and from work experience to world view.
They have created a productive and nature-oriented kitchen that values materials and thinks ahead. Their creative plates are shaped by trial and error, rather than designed plates. Their plates attract attention because they pour out whatever comes to them, and they take care to bring the material to the fore in a creative way.
What they use in their breads is Murat’s 14-year-old sourdough. The habits of kombucha, water kefir, and pickles from the family also find their place in their kitchen. Even if it increases the workload, the two love to offer their own products.
Burçak and Murat Kazdal aim to create a neighborhood restaurant culture, which starts with regulars and reaches a wider circle in Apartıman Yeniköy, in a plain and reflective environment. The fact that I was informed about this and coming from the other end of a big city like Istanbul shows that they have achieved this.
The life of Chef Burçak Kazdal in contact with nature, has been decisive in finding and processing clean and good material for the restaurant. Her student years in Ayvalık, chasing fish with spearguns and shooting octopuses on the rocks, the time she has spent in their hut in the forest in the Strandja mountains, a year in his elder brothers’ farm sowing the soil and taking care of the sheep all blended with the shifts she has worked at major restaurants in Turkey and abroad. A chef was born who has experienced and processed nature and appreciates these blessings.
Now they are after good and clean material in Apartıman and let it guide them. Home to around 600 French Lacaune sheep and around 400 free-range chickens, Mahyadağı Dost Çiftlik under the management of their brother, provides the milk and eggs they want and nowadays also supplies their lamb meat. The biggest supporter of their varied menus is Damlıca Farm, where they plan the planting together, share seeds and conduct honest, chemical-free agriculture. They try to get their vegetables from this farm in Çatalca as much as possible, or else they get every product they use from the producer and from the sources they trust.
Every plate coming to the table at Apartıman that day, were the product of all this effort. I was happy to find the care and originality I was looking for in each and every dish. I v’s’ted Apartiman in early October and tasted the following flavors: As starter; Eggplant with “Pekmez” (Concentrated grape juice), Artichoke Chips, Padron Peppers, “Tarama” (A special Turkish meze), Raw Lion Fish Plate served with sea beans, satsuma and red onion.
The starters were all delicious. I would like to mention the Lion Fish, which has a very interesting story. Apartıman became aware of the Lion Fish, one of the invading fish coming from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, at the Parabereforum by Zafer Kızılkaya’s presentation. Thanks to Tohum Istanbul, they got in touch and the Mediterranean Conservation Society worked hard for the fish to reach Apartiman smoothly. Hadi Balık Bodrum has become the transportation sponsor. All I had to do was to enjoy this very special plate.
The Lionfish reminded me of the story of Tegui in Argentina, I admired last year at “Gastromasa” seminar. Tegui’s owner and chef German Martitegui impressed me with his selection of suppliers from local people who produce traditionally, and the regular visits he made to them. On one occasion, when he visited the fishermen in the Paraguay River, he saw that they could no longer find the fish they always bought and did not know what to do. Fishermen complained of the invasive Piranha fish. German started buying this invasive fish from fishermen and changed the menu. He told us at the conference: “If nature gives you Piranha fish, you make Piranha soup out of it”. This decision contributed to the re-finding of the balance of nature, created a difference with the new dish in the menu, and also produced livelihood for the local people. Of course, it has not been easy to process Piranha fish and create a suitable recipe for it, but hard-working chefs and businesses feed form challenge!
I had Lamb Tandoori with Peach as the main course. I especially loved the harmony of the lime yogurt with the meat. It reminded me of my Indian recipe of lamb stew I cooked with yogurt. Our accompanying red wine was Karnas Shiraz 2016. This is a Turkish producer in Bodrum, the southwest region of Turkey. I tried this wine for the first time and I thought it has been a nice companion for the meat I had. Apartıman Yeniköy’s menu has a delightful selection of many other local wines.
Apartıman Yeniköy definitely managed to reach me and conquer me. I feel happy to have discovered a new place to visit regularly to examine seasonal innovations in its menu and know I am in good hands.