08 February 2016

Turkish Breakfast Review - Çakmak

I recently read an article on Yabangee about a place to take your friend who won't shut up about Van Kahvaltı Evi. I still love me some Van Kahvaltı Evi but the author was not wrong about the draw of Çakmak's breakfast offerings. Located in Beşiktaş, the neighborhood next over from mine filled with popular cafes and bars but a place I've never explored, Çakmak seemed the perfect place to take some visitors who wanted to get out of Sultanahmet. 

Very unassuming from the outside, not all tarted up to attract the hipster breakfaster, Çakmak's fantastic food more than makes up for anything you might think missing from the simple, local decor. Coming in from the sleety cold of an Istanbul January we were greeted by a wall of warmth, hustled to a table, and had a large tea in front of us before we knew it.

That's the bal kaymak there in the middle.

We started with the big breakfast plate. While it may be called something different and/or have a slight variation of offerings in each cafe, these big plates are the foundation of Turkish breakfast. They usually contain some mix of: 3-4 local cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomato paste (sometimes sweet sometimes a little spicy), olives, butter, a jam or two, even Nutella on the occasion, lots of bread, and if you're lucky bal kaymak.

Çakmak's breakfast plate was pretty typical as far as thee offerings went but also included a nice dollop of  süzme which is a super thick, tangy yogurt. Where Çakmak's big plate distinguishes itself though is the magical bal kaymak. I've had bal kaymak at any number of places and sometimes buy kaymak to have at home but Çakmak's was something special. Bal is Turkish for honey and kaymak is this clotted cream-like deliciousness that has a consistency closer to butter. The two of them together are a combination made up of unicorn horns and angel feathers. Quality and quantity both very from cafe to cafe and Çakmak had both the most generous amount I've ever been served as well as the highest quality. I will head back there just for that. 

Also worth the admittedly not very far trip to Beşiktaş are the egg dishes. We ordered one menemen with pastirma (cured beef deliciousness) and two orders of the kavurmali sahanda yurmuta (chunks of the most amazing roasted beef-also delicious on a pide), the dish recommended in the Yabangee article. Yeah. Dude. Amazing. Also amazing...the price tag. The three of us split the large breakfast plate and had one egg dish and two-three cups of tea each for a grand total of 51 TL...about 18 USD.

Sinanpaşa Mahallesi
Çelebioğlu Sokak, No 8
Beşiktaş, İstanbul

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