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A Russian in Istanbul

When night falls, Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen walks out from the embassy in Beyoglu, starts walking towards Tunnel quarter by himself, have one beer or two at Fisher's Beer Hall and walks back to Rejans even he know he'll come across with Von Papen." says Jak Deleon. "Just for a second, i really enjoy when i imagine this moment; English ambassador in Turkey, Knatbull-Hugesson, decorates his cream colored suit with bright yellow silk tie, steps into the restaurant and finds his seat just at very first left at the entrance. At the same time, German Ambassador Von Papen in smoky grey suit, sits at the last table but on the same line of Hugessen's table, sips his 12 Lira costed Cordon Rouge champaigne. Somehow these guys always come across whenever they visit this restaurant."

It's 1940's' Istanbul with Balalaika songs filling the streets of Galata. It's obviously not possible to explain this city's memories without Beyoglu which is full of laugh and irremediable stories on the streets. After Bolchevik period the population of Beyoglu rised and it became a quarter where most of "White Russian" families moved in. And in the early period of Republic, Rejans opened its gates for fulfilling the long-awaited food of those families and it became a great spot where "grand dukes" who escaped from regime used to work as waitors.

They say Rejans used to be a chosen restaurant by the first Turkish president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He always picked the table number 2.

At the left end of the saloon, we are able to see the names "Tevfik Manars, Veronika Protoppova, Mikhail Mikhailovic..." It's an honor for us to join the table of them who started this restaurant. Very well-known 360 Restaurants took Rejans Restaurant which used to be closed for a long time and restored it. Honestly this is probably the best move and best work of the same group in their entire lifetime.

When we stepped in restaurant it was around 7pm and there was like no one arrived. We were quite upset about the emptiness of this restaurant however we didn't know that it will be fully booked in an hour. Honestly, when you are making reservation, this is one of the places that you do not need to ask for a "nice" table, as every single corner has a special feeling. At the very first second, everything besides way too much dimness seems extremely flawless. When we were ordering our food, it wasn't unkind for the service team when we were asking for food to share, even main courses. We wanted to try as much as we can and honestly each bite was more delicious. Service started with lovely warm village style breads and pickles. From "borsch soup" to of course "Russian salad"(that we Turks call it that way), topik which is a delicious Armenian dish made with chickpeas,onion currant, tahini and cumin was enriched with black currant and pine nuts were extremely delicious. Salmon crepes, pelmeni which is a different kind of Russian ravioli were so unique but honestly, weirdly, sarcasticly, my favourite favourite became a salad with duck cooked until it gets crispy... Besides everything, the main course here for me was yellow vodka! What?! But yes. As a person who really doesn't like vodka at all, loved this one and now i can claim that the best vodka ever i tried is at Rejans Restaurant offered by Piero and Sashah. This, lemon based yellow vodka was probably the best sip we had at our experience besides its delish cocktails. Just for a second, imagine... Just like Agatha Christie walks out of Pera Palace Hotel where she stays, steps in Rejans Restaurant to have her dinner, tens of years after now history will mention about you in this restaurant. So lets hold our glasses for Russian Lucien Olivier for finding out Russian salad that is always cooked by our mothers too. Sanem.

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