Günaydın began as a small butcher shop in İstanbul’s Bostanci neighbourhood. Its humble beginnings may be an indicator of the exceptional meat on offer, but the classic interiors, attentive service and stunning Fountain-side setting may come as a surprise.
Both indoors and outside offer views equally as magnificent. You can almost feel The Fountain’s jets blasting water up in the air, but it’s quiet and peaceful inside thanks to the relaxed ambience, simple décor and no-fuss servers.
We put Günaydın’s meat mastery claims to the test and go for the Tomahawk steak, which the server showcases uncooked before bringing our starters. We approve, and dig into the çiğ köfte – raw chopped beef with a secret spice mix that’s pounded with green onions. Our server wraps individual patties in iceberg lettuce. It’s exquisite, with a spicy kick that builds as you eat.
The patlican salatasi, or barbecued aubergine purée, has just the right degree of smokiness. And although no bread is needed, you’ll want to try the freshly baked pide too.
The steak arrives perfectly cooked and doesn’t take us long to demolish the substantial cut.
Meanwhile the tombik döner, a Turkish pita stuffed full with tomatoes, lettuce, onions and tender lamb kebab, could put any vertical rotisserie to shame.
Günaydin is friendly and cheerful, yet undeniably sophisticated, and the team know their meats – we can vouch for that.
WHAT IS IT...
Downtown Turkish restaurant ideal for meat-eaters
If you love kebabs, steaks and more
Winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Fine Dining Newcomer award in 2017, the fact this superb Anatolian eatery claimed Best MENA in 2018 is testament to its consistency in all areas.
In cooler months the doors are flung open to make the terrace and main dining area one, but in summer the cosy vibe and warm décor make the inside dining room a treat to visit, too.
The atmosphere is relaxed, convivial and romantic. Service is slick, as are the innovative dishes fired out of chef Colin Clague’s kitchen, which take diners on a journey through Turkey, from northern Marmara to the Aegean coast.
Lamb cutlets with creamy, smoky aubergine, grilled octopus with black-eyed beans, meatballs with baby artichoke – each dish is beautifully presented, deeply fragrant and rich in classic regional flavours. The pide is stunning, too.
A touch of Turkish sage here, a sprinkling of zaatar there, sumac, saffron… This feels like a real, modern journey through the celebrated cuisine of an ancient nation.
And if you get lost on your travels, the staff are never far from hand to make recommendations. Trust them – they know what they’re talking about. And trust us when we tell you this is one of the best restaurants in town.
The bottom line
Inventive dishes in a slick setting.
Persian pleasures await as you step through the grand archway of a restaurant full of elegance and rich tradition. Housed in one of the city’s grandest hotels, a dinner date at Shabestan feels like receiving a royal appointment. The vast dining room, decorated with beautiful Persian rugs, has a bright feel, with its large windows treating diners to splendid views of Dubai Creek. Smartly-dressed staff are charming and courteous and provide helpful advice on the wealth of Iranian favourites. The palate-pleasing resteh soup, filled with fresh vegetables and mopped up with warm and crunchy bread gives a terrific taste of things to come. A wide selection of seafood dishes and kebabs are on offer on the extensive menu, but heed the advice of our waiter and go for the signature gormeh sabzi, a fragrant stew filled with with tender chunks of lamb. It was once dined on by kings and is fitting for such a regal venue.
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There’s so much to like about Leila. The traditional Lebanese eatery immediately catches the eye with its ample outdoor terrace, shadowed by palm trees leading to a homely indoor dining area with a light and bright décor and an open kitchen set-up where you can watch the chefs at work.Middle Eastern music plays in the background, and old black and white films are shown on small screens as keen and friendly staff talk you through the menu. The menu is extensive with a variety of hot and cold mezzes and grills. Try starting with a fattet hummus, a hearty pine-nut packed dish lathered in a creamy yoghurt that proves a refreshing take on the staple. Manti won’t be for everyone, the dumplings are soaked in an acidic tomato sauce that overpowers the dish. The Lebanese pizza also sadly lacks crunch, with soft cheese and huge slices of tomato lying on top of the bread making for a soggy texture. Leila has much to recommend it, but with so many Lebanese outlets vying for your attention it could do with being more consistent.
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