Jan 27 2013

Marina Balik


This is a strangish restaurant in a way. Marina Balik is a fish restaurant located on the European side of Istanbul by the Bosphorus in a wooden house and offers great views of the Bosphorus. Before you enter the wooden building there is a map that has pictures and names of various fish next to the door and once you enter you find yourself in this small room that has a glass fridge with various fresh fish displayed there. When I went there I could see a huge turbot (enough for 4 people), sea bass, sea bream, jumbo prawns and many other types of fish. We came for dinner on a Sunday night and unfortunately the place was empty and only one other table was occupied, which meant there was very little atmosphere in the restaurant and the staff were extremely quick in serving us and there was too much attention on us. We looked at the menu and it had cold and hot starters and deserts, and as soon as we had picked up the menu, one of the impatient waiters came to us with a trolley that had a selection of typical Turkish cold mezze like cheese, aubergine salad, artichokes for us to choose. A lot of Turkish restaurants bring the cold mezze like this to you to choose from and I have to say that here the mezze did not look as appetising as in other restaurants I have seen and in the end we only chose one thing which was rice and seafood wrapped in wine leaves (the traditional version has meat but here I guess they had changed it as they are a fish restaurant). It was ok, but I have had much better. We also got some excellent olives and toasted bread and some other interesting types of bread to eat. After choosing our cold starter we were quickly invited to go back to the front room with the fridge with all the fish and chose the fish we wanted to have as our main course (in the menu there was no selection of main courses and no prices so everyone just went and chose their fish for the main course). We decided to have jumbo prawns as a starter as they looked great, and we asked for 2 (in the end they brought us 3, no idea why), and we also had some fish kofte (fish balls) as well as some fried calamari. The waiter tried to sell us the turbot for our main course and said it was the freshest and he said he had a turbot in a size that would be enough for 2 people, so in the end after slight deliberation we went for the turbot (although we could have chosen the sea bass, sea bream or any other fish). We also ordered some Shepherds salad and some Green salad to go with the meal. The fish kofte was not cooked in the shape of a ball but nevertheless was very taste and nice. We each got 2 pieces of large deep fried calamari which was also delicious and they brought you some sauce to go with it. The prawns looked much smaller than the raw ones we were shown, but still were great and delicious. But I have to say how the waiter decided to bring us 3 prawns and 4 calamari rings I have no idea, as we did not specify and it did not say that on the menu. The  Shepherds salad (no idea where the name comes from) was a typical Turkish salad with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, herbs and a nice fresh dressing and the green salad was some sort of green leaves topped with tomatoes which was also very nice. I love these type of Turkish salads and I always eat a lot of them, but having said that these were not the nicest Turkish salads I have had, you can get much better in other restaurants. When the turbot arrived it was very big (enough to feed 3 or 4 people) but it was cut into pieces and deep fried, and it is very bad I think how we were not asked how we wanted the turbot to be cooked and we both agreed that grilled fish without the deep fry would have been much better as it is such a good quality fish. The turbot was served with 2 (!! A bit stingy) pieces of potatoe on the large plate and in the end we did finish a lot of it, but only because we did not really eat the deep fried bit a lot, and just tried to get the pure white flesh of the fish. After the meal we did not want any desert but we did go for some nice traditional Turkish tea. When the bill arrived and it said 380 Turkish lira (£150) I was a bit surprised, as I did not know how they had got to that amount, they only brought us 1 number without detailing all the items and this seemed like so much, as all the starters were 10 on average and the salad each cost 10, so we had problems in the end trying to understand how they got to the amount, and this must mean the turbot and the 2 glasses of wine were very expensive. So in the end we paid £75 each for this meal when we did not have that much and even though the food was nice, it was not outstanding and also there were not that many special things about this place as you can get the view in  other restaurants and it is not like the look of the place was anything special. Also what we found strange was the speed with which everything happened when we ordered things, as we only had to say a type of fish aloud and the waiter would already be writing it down, when we were just having a debate and by no means trying to order and also the speed and skill in which they sold us the expensive turbot was remarkable. I somehow felt a bit cheated after leaving this restaurant and I wonder if things would have been different if I had gone with a local. But yes I will not be rushing back on my own to this restaurant, as I have had much better fish in Istanbul in other restaurants and I just did not like the service too much or how they got to the final amount of the bill.

Price for 2 with 2 glasses of wine and 10% service charge: 420 Turkish lira (around £150)
Location: Istanbul
Date: 27/01/13

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Marina Balik
Vapur İskelesi Sk Beşiktaş
Marina Balik Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 2.5