With a quiet location on a side street in Istanbul, Asitane Restaurant has been re-creating classical Ottoman Empire cuisine since 1991. It’s harder than it sounds: Since secretive guilds during the Ottoman era prohibited chefs from writing down recipes, putting that food on the table has required some serious detective work.
A team of academics and researchers collaborated with the restaurant’s chefs to craft a repertoire of hundreds of recipes, including many that are tied to specific dates. Specialties include almond soup from 1539 served with pomegranate and nutmeg, 17th-century fried liver rissoles dunked in sweet-and-sour molasses, and slow-cooked goose atop almond pilaf. A perennial favorite is baked fruit (quince in the winter, melon in the summer) stuffed with lamb and beef. Tables in the tree-shaded courtyard are especially appealing when Istanbul turns steamy.
Update as of August 2021: Currently closed indefinitely for renovations.
Know Before You Go
While the restaurant’s a bit out of the way, it’s just around the corner from the wonderful Chora Museum, a preserved Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church with beautiful mosaics and frescoes.