Fact: there’s no shortage of good food finds in Istanbul. One of my favourite places in the heart of Turkey’s largest city is Auf, a hyper cool restaurant located next to the Pera Museum in Beyoglu. The kitchen at Auf is run by two former academics who have undoubtedly found their true calling in serving up some seriously good food that includes ample Intolerant-friendly (vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options) options on the menu.
The restaurant/lounge has a rustic designer-lite feel to it; one steps past the threshold and feels as if they’re inside the pages of Home & Design thanks to exposed pipes, whitewashed brick walls and countless metallic accents. With several small wooden tables lining the perimeter of the room and several large communal tables taking center stage, Auf reminded me of a slightly more refined Pain Quotidien. A little bit more serious and stylish in its intent.
Open daily, Auf offers a creative lunch buffet and an à la carte dinner with items that comprised with seasonal and organic ingredients. Along with thoughtful menu selections, there are also several cheeses to choose from, an assortment of homemade baked goods that look far too pretty to eat and cured meats that are are smoked in-house. After 23:00 on the weekends, Auf turns into a nightclub where Istanbul’s young and restless dance the night away to rhythmic house and electronic beats.
I popped in for lunch and looking for something light, I went for the beetroot salad and fennel in olive oil. They were both dishes with rather basic ingredients, yet they were delicious in their simplicity. I’m not a big fan of beets by a long stretch, but I found myself enjoying the beetroot salad so much that my plate was clean in record time and not a single morsel left behind.
The fennel in olive oil came afterwards and was a solid winner. Fennel can be quite a bitter and astringent vegetable, which makes it tricky to cook with. This fennel however, was steamed to perfection and tossed with a generous dousing of olive oil. The fennel bulbs were moist, lemony and rich in flavour and they went down so smoothly in fact that I was tempted to order more. Instead I took an eyeful of dessert (there was nothing dairy free unfortunately) and opted for an espresso to finish off my meal instead.
Auf is a restaurant run by foodies, for foodies and as long as they continue to serve creative food at an affordable cost I’m pretty sure the clientele will keep on coming.
I certainly know where I’ll be heading the next time I’m in Istanbul.
67 Mesrutiyet Cad. Nu Pera, Beyoglu, Istanbul
Hours: Monday – Thursday from 11:30 – midnight
Friday from 11:30 – 04:00
Saturday from 8:00 – midnight
Closed on Sundays