Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Safa Kahvesi, Gulhane, Istanbul, Turkey

There are plenty of caffs in Istanbul, but I was hoping to find one that was cosy and welcoming. It proved to be quite difficult.
Safa Kahvesi – a bit boring and not that friendly. It certainly wasn't cosy!

Sitting on a tram en route to a place called Kabatas (pronounced Kabatash) I was intrigued by an area of Istanbul (well, a tram stop to be more precise) call Gulhane. I say I was intrigued, it was only that there appeared to be some cosy-looking venues worthy of investigation so, when I had some free time, I walked to Gulhane from my hotel and checked out a couple of places.

The first place I stumbled across – the place I'd seen from the tram – didn't really fit the bill (it was licensed and it was a restaurant). The second was Safa Kahvesi, which, from the outside, looked cosy. It could have been cosy too, but there was something not quite right: it wasn't friendly. It wasn't unfriendly either, but there was something miserable about it that lingered and that meant that I wasn't going to stay too long.
Turkish tea – no milk, horrible.

Turkish tea. Something needs to be said. For a start is it really Turkish tea or is it just that the Turks drink their tea in a kind of egg timer glass without milk, but served with a couple of sugar cubes? In other words, is the tea inside the cup Lipton's or PG Tips? It would have been pointless asking anybody this question.

Anyway, I chose Safa Kahvesi, bowled in, took a pew and ordered some tea. Sure enough it arrived in one of those egg timer glasses and it was black tea, which, without milk, is terribly bitter and dries out the mouth. I can't say I was happy. There was little in the way of food available and when I asked for some they said I couldn't have any. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day, I don't know.

There were other customers but none of them appeared to be enjoying themselves or relaxing into their environment: this was a case of coming in, ordering, drinking and going.

There was a pleasant-looking display of Turkish sweets and delicacies and the woman behind the counter said it was alright when I asked if I could take a photograph, but there ended the experience.
Safa Kahvesi's sweets selection – I didn't buy any.

On offer was various coffees, espresso, cappuccino and tea, served as described above. The tea, it must be said, took a while to cool sufficiently before I could drink it (another bummer when you're in a hurry to escape). I suppose I could have just left it, but that would have been a waste of money.

Snacks were available, but not to me for some reason. They included kurabiye tabagi (translated to 'cookie plate') in small and large sizes.

Verdict? Not impressed. Unfriendly staff, I couldn't order food, the Turkish tea was bitter, there was no milk (and I knew that if I asked for milk they would have problems understanding me). It was time to leave, which I did, promptly.

1 comment:

  1. Well, despite the unfriendly staff and bitter tea, you should have tried the loukoums. The best I ate in the city, homemade, not industrial bullsh...
    Rose, pistachio and pomegranate was my favorite one, but also saffron, pistachio and honey. So good! You should have sweetened your tea, dear. And yes, the tea is Turkish, no Lipton or something.