I’ve talked a bit about my trip to Turkey and what an extraordinary culinary destination it is. But what I haven’t mentioned are the personal trials and tribulations I experienced getting there – 2 days stuck in JFK (folded over chairs and publicly toothbrushing), missed connecting flights, luggage that apparently never left JFK (we found out in Cappadocia…), and, most importantly, lost time that pushed back the whole trip and my packed food schedule! By the time I got to the second city, Istanbul, I was exhausted and debated staying in for the night rather than visiting this stunning restaurant, Mimolett. So happy I went…
First, the restaurant is in the Picadilly Circus-equivalent of Istanbul. It qualifies as destination dining. But if you can get past that (and you should), the space is ridiculously unassuming and decadent all at the same time. A classic bar, descent into a double-height dining room in warm neutrals with dark wood, an intimate chef’s table outside an open kitchen, a wine boutique with tasting room and beautiful outdoor seating with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus.
I had the opportunity to chat at length with the chef, Murat Bozok, who has a compelling story. After getting his business degree in Istanbul with the family’s hopes that he would work for their textile company, he decided to uproot, move to the States, and get his culinary degree. He worked for a few big hotels after but had his eyes on fine dining and learning from the best chefs in the world. He sought out the likes of Pierre Gagnaire, Gordon Ramsay and Joel Robuchon – and ended up working for them all! Perfect training grounds for his eventual return to Istanbul and the opening of his flagship restaurant, Mimolett.
And the food is executed with the detail he picked up at all of these incredible places. Delicate soups laced with truffle, rabbit meatballs he adapted from his friend’s mother, lauded foie gras. I’ve chatted with him since my amazing meal there, and, he’s pushed beyond his French repertoire and created a Turkish-focused degustation menu for which I’m sad I haven’t gotten to experience.
Murat is building a brand for the future and has upcoming appearances on Masterchef. Watch out for him to become the first Michelin-starred chef of Turkey!