Saturday, September 10, 2016

Farewell to a favorite Istanbul restaurant

Influenced by the organic, locally grown California cuisine of Alice Waters, young chef Didem Şenol brought a fresh approach to Turkish cooking when she opened Lokanta Maya in 2010, eschewing rigid food combinations and letting high-quality ingredients shine.

Since writing up my first meal at Lokanta Maya in a restaurant review for Istanbul Eats, I'd enjoyed many delicious evenings there with friends, celebrating birthdays, entertaining out-of-town guests, or simply treating ourselves to top-notch food and good Turkish wine in a pleasing setting.

Sadly, the troubles that have enveloped Turkey this year have not been good for business, and at the end of July, Maya joined the growing list of places in Istanbul closing their doors. A small silver lining was the chance to speak with the ever-gracious and thoughtful Şenol about her decision to close the restaurant, her culinary philosophy, and the changing urban fabric around us.

Read my interview with Didem Şenol, "Farewell Lokanta Maya: Istanbul and Local Culinary Pioneer Hit Hard Times," on Culinary Backstreets (the successor site to Istanbul Eats).