OPEN HOURS: 11:30 am – 3:00pm Monday – Friday 5:30 pm – 11:30pm Tuesday – Saturday
On one evening strolling through the charming streets of old Montreal, we had the luck of stumbling upon Accords. First the aromas filtering through the doors and windows pulled us in to to the street side menu. We were hooked upon reading the first item on the menu ‘The Fish That Came in From The Cold‘. As John Le Carre fans we just had to go in.
Accords is quite a beautiful restaurant, designed by Karim Zariffa. Who did the entire experience, including furniture and unique and experimental light fixtures resembling a chemistry lab.
The name of the restaurant ties right into their main theme of pairings. The menu offers you two pairings for each dish; either in Accord (agreement) as a classic pairing or in Dis-Accord (disagreement) in a nontraditional pairing. Accord is a place where the sommeliers – Philip Morisset and Lainie Taillefer – share center stage with executive chef Marc-André Lavergne and pastry chef Sayaka Omori. Applause are in order.
Our meal: QUÉBEC CHEESES PLATTER nuts, dried fruits and bread croutons paired with a primitivo lamie delle vigne 2009 THE FISH WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD* Stove mackerel, pickles, cucumber, dill, ratte potato chips and smoked mussels paired with Emilia «Notte Di Luna» 2010, Ca’ de Noci
Mushrooms cloud and ricotta raviolis, portobello, porcinis, shiitakes and wild mushrooms with paired Collio « San Lorenzo di Brazzano» 1999, I Clivi
In the middle of the Besiktas neighborhood, sit the historic Akaretler Row Houses. Peering at their curved facades, one can deconstruct their current perfection and see how it was a developers dream. The neighborhood has now been transformed into one of the city’s trendiest areas, where you will find every elite boutique from Etro to Missoni. Direct in the middle of this shoppers mecca lays the absolutely wonderful, very stylish and surprisingly accessible W Hotel Istanbul.
Besiktas, and the W, is situated well away from the chaos of the main tourist areas, but close enough for easy access. Be prepared to taxi in and out of ‘town’ for the sites and nightlife. Luckily, the cabs are not so pricey as to make the fare uncomfortable – our average ride to/from the W was about 15 -25 minutes and cost between 8 -& 20 YTL (About $6-15). The Ferry is right down the hill, 3 blocks away, and offers an exciting water journey downtown to Sultanhamet and the Hagia Sophia. Boats leave every twenty minutes before 10 am and every hour from then on. One thing you learn early is that all travel in Istanbul is highly traffic dependent, you learn to avoid rush hours quickly- the boats are your best bet for those times. It is also within walking distance to the Dolmabahçe Palace, the seat of the Ottomans from 1856 through 1924.
The W itself is a real jewel designed by Mahmut Anlar of the design firm Geomim. It manages to stay just on the side of fun & chic, without crossing over into ostentatious and eurotrashy. I believe this is the result of the excellent staff- which manages to keep everything grounded and never slipped into any type of haughtiness while we were there (5 days). On the weekends a trendy crowd comes to party in the upstairs bar- that looks to have lovely outdoor seating, which was unfortunately closed during our stay. Guests are invited to join the party, and we were never made to feel uninvited.
An interesting fact is that the W Hotels are a franchise, not a chain. Thus each W is independantly owned and managed- leading to varying experiences between locations. The slogan is “Whatever/Whenever,” and the staff at the W Istanbul certainly took that to heart! The service was impeccable; from the front desk to the attentive doormen (who make sure you don’t get taken advantage off by taxi drivers), the concierge staff is a fountain of useful information and charm and everyone has a genuine smile on their face.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and fully decked. The beds were very comfortable (you can order one off the room service menu!). Excellent water pressure gave a loving hot shower. The programed lighting is a delightful touch- ranging from reading, sleeping and the all important ambient mellow lounge look 😉
The W’s in-house restaurant was one of the Spice Market chain that has a menu created by Jean-Georges. It is a bit overpriced, as you would expect, but offers quality food. A find for us was the late-night room service menu that had an excellent pasta!
In the lobby, there is a quite comfortable lounge area known by the moniker “Sip”, located opposite reception, behind beaded curtains. Decorated with comfortable couches and settes; a place where you can relax with a tea and surf with the free Wifi. Jump next to the hotel for an acceptable coffee from the ever present “Cafe Nero” for an option to the overpriced hotel breakfast.
Having stayed in many hotels, including a few W’s, I must say that the W Istanbul deserves all the accolades it gets. It successfully manages to merge old world service with ultra modern decor, which combine to create an experience that is at the same time relaxing, exciting, welcoming and exotic! Kudos.
This is bazaar is located behind the Sultan Ahmed Mosque mosque. Situated on the site of 17th century stables; the Arasta bazaar is small and extremely touristic – full of neatly arranged gift shops . It’s not a place to go on a dedicated trip; it is a good resting stop between Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Mosaic Museum – or a place to burn time or grab a bite in case the above are not open yet.
Though like any of Istanbul’s many Bazaars, the Arasta is good place to look at the different Turkish handcrafts.
We did find one excellent non-tchotchke spot that stood out selling lamps.
In the very chic neighborhood of Condesa, in a lovely space – originally designed in 1939 by architect Luis Barragan – one finds the cute Bonito Pop Food.
The entry is dominated by a lovely mural with sculpted ceramic birds, making way into four individual spaces: an intimate hidden at a corner, a second floor with windows overlooking the main patio, a 2nd patio with very tall ceiling – head here for a super decked bar with an amazing variety of Mezcal (including our favorite Mezcal Rojo Corazón) and many tequilas – and finally a terrace at the back of the venue with full view.
Bonito Pop food is a good place to go for drinks; but like many places in DF you are asked to consume food as well due to the liquor license laws. It seems that acquiring a bar license is much more difficult then a restaurant with liqueur permit.
The menu here is not the most exciting – centering around burgers, pastas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches and a few Mexican classics – but the service is warm and welcoming . There are certainly worse places to while away an afternoon!
Beautiful contemporary design with a dash of an austere industrial look – striped marble counter tops decorated, attractive wall textures and custom lighting by design firm Commute Home – belies the warmth found with the staff and food. One special detail we loved was they presented us the bill inside a book. Nyood is quite stylish and still retains charm – worth checking it out.
Executive chef Ariel Copland, created a menu with a little of everything. We went for brunch and had a very pleasant experience – with food and excellent service; our bartender was very attentive and offer great tips about the city. He even helped me work through some morning crankiness with an espresso and a smile!
During our visit the the ambiance was quite chill and relaxed, but we hear the restaurant takes a very different direction at night. Word is it becomes a full on party scene – and with the plethora of open space, one could easily envision a chic crowd getting down!