The second you walk in, you are hugged by the Naif‘s Aegean inspired, friendly ambiance, which we haven’t quite seen in Istanbul. White and blue dominates the small space with striped cushions, an arresting wall of porcelain plates, teapot lanterns, birdcages, open cupboards filled with jars of jams and bottles of olive oil. It almost feels like a dinner party at a friend’s summer home in Alaçatı rather than a restaurant in a metropolitan city.
Just like the design itself, the dishes that are prepared with the freshest of ingredients – brought from small local markets of various regions in Turkey – also feel more home-made than gourmet. Their philosophy is to bring out the purity of traditional Anatolian home cooking, without fancy tricks, which while trying to be different, can steal from the natural essence of the ingredient.
Our favorites of the night were the zucchini fritters, tabbouleh with pomegranate sauce, oven baked free-range chicken and stuffed kale with minced meat. We haven’t experienced their brunch yet, but hear it’s become quite the popular spot for the weekend. Although we must admit that we were taken in more by the decor than the dishes themselves, this new discovery is a warm, lovely escape from the pretentious hustle-bustle of the city. Istanbul needs more naif places like this.
Naif (English only for the menu)
Kemankeş Mah., Mumhane Cd No:52, Karaköy – 0212 251 5335
Hours of operation: 8:30 – 0:30
Appetizers: 7TL-22TL; Main dishes: 17TL-44TL
(no raki on the menu but if you kindly ask they will provide…)