In this brief reprieve from violence, I say fuck it. Let’s have a normal conversation about restaurants and shopping like normal people.
I’ve long been of the opinion that the fish restaurants around the market in Kadiköy are all more or less the same. I change my mind, guys.
TJ left for America this week. I’m bereft. On her last afternoon, before she caught her plane, she picked me up from work so we could have a last lunch together. She wanted fish so we walked down fish restaurant street, with no criteria other than “no aggressive buyuruning, good meze.” We made it down the length of the street without so much of a hint of a soft sell. I HATE aggressive restaurant people. They make me feel stabby. TJ had been to Papya a few times, and there was no one outside screaming at us that they had the best kebap/fish/döner whatever so we gratefully sank into chairs.
The waiter came over and looked flustered.
“Sorry,” he said, “No English.”
“No problem,” I said in Turkish. “We speak a little Turkish.”
He looked relieved. We mulled over the menu and decided on a splitting a ridiculous number of meze- patlican, kalamar, fried cheese things, karides, midye dolma, fava. He took our order, lit my cigarette and went away.
“Did that just happen?” TJ said. “We walked by ten restaurants where they were literally screaming at us to come inside, and following us, and sometimes blocking our path, and we get here and not only is no one buyuruning us, he actually warned us that we might not have such a great time cause he doesn’t speak English.”
“I love this place,” I said. “This is the best restaurant ever.”
The food didn’t disappoint, and neither did the portions. Normally, for instance, when you order the shrimp casserole, there’s a picture in the menu of a huge plate of shrimp casserole bubbling away in a ginormous iron skillet, but when it comes to the table it’s a wee little iron ramekin with, like, four shrimp in it.
Not so at Papya. We got a fuck ton of shrimp. And it was delicious.
The real test of a restaurant came after the meal, however, when I visited the facilities.
“What happened?” TJ asked when I came back up, face white with shock.
“You know my bathroom scale? 0 being toilet in public hospital, 1 being toilet on ferry, 2 being-”
“Yeah,” she interrupted.
“This might be the first 5 out of 5.”
“Check it out- spotlessly clean, smelled nice, had toilet paper, paper towels AND soap…”
“I know but it gets better! The lights were on motion sensor, you know, and they didn’t turn off ONCE while I was peeing!”
“Now I know you’re lying.”
“I’m not! I swear! This is the best restaurant EVER!”
And the best part- for two people to each have two drinks and more food than even we, as rather healthy eaters could cram into ourselves- the bill was well under a hundred.
I hugged TJ tight and sent her on her way to the airport, and then was feeling so shitty and low only a new dress would do, so I ventured into Campus, a store around the corner from my house that I’ve passed and never been in. I cannot find it on the internet, now, but K-köy folks, it’s on the same street as Viktor Levi. Close-ish to Zurich. Not only do they have a selection of the loveliest, loveliest frocks in fantastic colors and prints, everything was under 70 lira.
If the apartment didn’t need to be furnished, my whole paycheck would go there.
So if you see Agent L out today, flitting around in a swirly teal dress, do say hello.