If you are Michelin Star hunting in Istanbul then you should look no further than the fine dining restaurant Nicole. In actual fact, there are no Michelin Star restaurants in Istanbul at all but the Nicole comes close. Located at the exclusive Tom Tom Suites, the Nicole restaurant enjoys some fabulous views from it’s rooftop terrace and is every bit worthy of being a Michelin Star contender with it’s modern artistic menu and overall dining experience. At Nicole you will find that the food is the shining star here. Nicole does not need to try to emulate others with theatrics in order to be a Michelin star contender – Nicole is all about the food.
My first impressions on arrival was that this restaurant was located in a rather inconspicuous street and even the restaurant entry is a little obscure. Once inside the building you head straight for the elevator, via the hallway. I had a little trouble finding where to go so I had to ask the staff in the gallery where the entrance to the restaurant was. On my way up I met an Australian couple who were coming from the restaurant and their parting words were “best dining experience in Istanbul”. They had already dined at Nicole twice that week.
The restaurant’s rooftop position sets the scene, with magnificent views over Istanbul. The ambience exudes a calmness, the room is elegant, tables are set with crisp white table cloths and the tableware is simple but stylish. During warm nights, the roof retracts to view a starry night sky and the windows become seamless with the outdoors.
I dined alone at this restaurant and was shown to a table where I could have one eye on the kitchen and the other eye admiring the outstanding view. I quite enjoyed watching the chefs create their art on a plate and bringing it straight to my table. The kitchen is on full view so you are privy to how meticulous these chefs are when creating each plate.
Nicole offers two exciting tasting menus – one short (5 courses) and one long (8 courses). This contemporary menu is designed around seasonal produce and changes every 6 weeks. Each dish can be matched with the local Turkish wines. I didn’t go for the matching wines, as I preferred to order my own this night, but I did overhear the sommelier explaining each matching wine with expertise to a table near mine. For the price, I would go for the long tasting menu and enjoy the experience to it’s full.
The evening proceeded with a timely procession of well presented dishes, which were introduced and explained by each chef. Every dish was exceptionally good, the meat was succulent and there were some beautiful flavours created for each dish. The service was brilliant – no one missed a beat, whether it was a top up of wine, some lively conversation, enquiring on the food, to removing plates (without hovering around) – the service was nothing short of perfect. The manager also oversees each table and makes sure everyone is well looked after.
When it came to the dessert, the manager suggested a Turkish dessert wine to go with it. He explained why this particular wine was an excellent dessert wine, the region it was from and he was most certainly genuinely excited by this wine. I declined as I normally don’t drink dessert wines and the price was little expensive compared to the other wines on offer. To my surprise the waiter came back with the dessert wine as complimentary. He had talked it up and wanted me to try it and indeed it was very nice. This is what wonderful hospitality is all about and a great end to the evening.
This is a very reasonably priced restaurant. If you were to have this same dining experience in Melbourne, Paris or London you would be paying double or even triple the price.
Prices are excellent for this amazing dining experience. For 175 TRY or around $80 Australian dollars, you will be treating yourself to something outstanding.
There are two tasting menus and both can be matched with Turkish wines.
The venue is simple and stylish and housed in the Tom Tom Suites. The building was formally used as a Franciscan monastery until the early 20th century.
The first course – amuse bouche
The tasting menu also has the option of wine pairing.
The second course – Asparagus
The third course – Crab
The fourth course – Octopus, pepper and onion.
The fifth course – Artichoke
The sixth course – pork belly
At the start of the evening when selecting your tasting menu, you will also be offered for an extra price to add some black truffles to one of your dishes. The waiter will come to your table with your purchase and carefully grate the truffles over your plate.
Seventh course – Lamb two ways, with a sprinkling of black truffles.
The eighth and final course was entitled ‘sweet endings’ which was served as three separate dishes.
Nicole at the Tom Tom Suites
Tomtom Kaptan Sokak
No.18 Beyoglu, 34433
Istanbul / Turkiye
Tele: +90 212 292 4949