Sultan’s Brunch, Istanbul Modern in SF

by foodhoe on September 24, 2017

1096 Union St, San Francisco 94133

I have been following Laura & Sayat on Instagram for quite some time and finally managed to book a seat at their Sultan’s Brunch which offers a fascinating and delicious introduction to Turkish cuisine.  I’ve never been to Istanbul and am not very familiar with the food, and only know that it is an ancient city that straddles Asia and Europe that is famous for its long history and architecture that dates back thousands of years.  I pictured domed mosques and minarets, grand bazaars and spice markets, and couldn’t wait to dine like a Sultan!  The brunch was offered through Feastly at one of their venues, a cafe in Russian Hill with an open kitchen in the back where we could watch the chefs in action.  Laura & Sayat are two chefs who are also husband and wife.  Laura is from Mexico and has worked at esteemed restaurants like Cafe Boulud, Mugaritz and Eleven Madison Park. Sayat is from Istanbul and his pedigree includes cooking at restaurants from Mumbai and Istanbul, including Le Bernardin and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  They have built quite a following with their Istanbul Modern popup events which focus on Eastern Mediterranean food

We sat at long communal tables and chatted with our neighbors while sipping pomegranate mimosas or Turkish coffee and tea.  The heavenly scent of freshly baked bread filled the room and soon platters of  Simit with yogurt butter were passed around the table.  Chef Sayat told us that they are known as Turkish bagels, one of the most popular street food snacks in Istanbul. It is tender like a pretzel and smaller than a bagel with a delicious nutty flavor from the toasted sesame seeds. I would love these slathered with butter and jam

Then came an exciting array of Mezes (small dishes) that are served family style.  A lovely woman at the table pulled everything in and styled it for an overhead shot.

Plump juicy olives marinated in roasted garlic and fermented pepper emulsion along with spiced walnuts.

I can’t stop thinking about the incredible Kaymak, which is thick clotted cream that is drenched with honey and sprinkled with crunchy sea salt.  The kaymak (which chef Sayat described as the result of a multi-day process) is magnificent and simple with a creamy taste that’s both subtle and rich at the same time.  It is like heaven in a bowl and I couldn’t stop eating it.

The main dish in this grouping was a salad of braised endive, tossed with slices of pickled eggplant, crunchy radish, roasted butternut squash, and juicy grapefruit segments lightly dressed, with a scoop of rich salmon salad topped with briny salmon roe.   Each bite was delicious, with many diverse flavor combinations to explore.

The briny warm feta foam with sweet, unctuous apricot marmalades was gorgeous and remarkably delicious. The feta mousse had a light creamy texture like yogurt infused with pungent salty flavor that made such an intriguing combination with the sweet apricot marmalade and toasted nuts.

Pan seared shisito peppers served over hummus and sprinkled with tart sumac are two things that we love and their combination fascinated our tastebuds.

The main course was a Turkish ratatouille with soft-boiled egg and garlic yogurt topped with zaatar crunchies called jilbir Çılbır.  The yolk and yogurt come together to make a delectable sauce for the stewed chickpeas that was so comforting and good.  Throughout the meal we enjoyed baskets of fresh baked pita bread to sop up the delicious flavors.

The meal ended with a magical dessert called Tik Tik Borek, made with phyllo and butter, with a delicate creamy filling flavored with mahlab, which had a rich floral flavor with an alluring almond fragrance.  The borek is chopped into segments and sprinkled with powdered sugar and was served with sweet juicy figs.  It was beautiful to behold and a fine ending to the feast which was worthy of Sultans!

You can find the schedule for Laura & Sayat’s Istanbul Modern events here.

The Sultan brunch generally has two seatings: 10:30-12:30, 1:00-3:00, Saturdays


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne November 3, 2017 at 10:17 am

This all looks wonderful. The only Turkish food I’ve had is at Kitchen Istanbul on Clement, and I loved that. So I’ll have to try this too.
Glad to see you’re back posting. I’ve missed reading your reviews!


foodhoe November 9, 2017 at 11:31 am

Thanks Anne, sometimes I just have to take a break! I am very intrigued with Turkish food, so now I want to check out Kitchen Istanbul, thanks for pointing that out.


grace November 3, 2017 at 2:13 pm

a meal like that doesn’t even need dessert, but what a way to end the onslaught of tasty dishes!!


christina November 9, 2017 at 8:03 am

I have to say, eating breakfast in Turkey is one of the best meals and it looks like it was captured pretty spot on here.
Kaymak was a revelation to me in Turkey, served with honey, it’s so simple but pretty much blows your mind at the same time.
Definitely going to have to give this place a try.


foodhoe November 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

Hey Christina, It’s funny how after just one meal, I did a little research on Istanbul and now I want to go there! Yes you should definitely check this out.


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