Visitors to Istanbul have not one but two magnificent Four Seasons properties to choose from, both similar in their luxury and service, yet distinctly different in their personality. The Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus was created from a 19th century Ottoman palace fronting the Bosphorus sea. The waterfront setting is ideal for a luxury hotel and the property is home to Aqua, a Mediterranean restaurant with an Italian flair. I had dinner at the restaurant with a group of friends on a Sunday night.

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This is a reprint of my article which originally appeared on Yahoo!:

Aqua at the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus

The space
Situated in a corner of the hotel, overlooking the sea, the restaurant is an elegant, yet comfortable space. There is a large outdoor seating area on the patio, overlooking parts of the the city and the Bosphorus.There are large walls of windows and like the rest of the hotel, there’s a comfortable elegance. It’s the kind of restaurant where a couple could have a romantic evening, but a family would also feel comfortable dining after a long day of sightseeing.

The food
We had a three-course tasting dinner that highlighted fresh, local ingredients. Italian-feeling dishes, done with a Turkish twist. Things started off with marinated vine-ripe tomatoes, next was buffalo mozzarella with basil and marinated anchovies. All this was served with country bread bruschetta. The full dinner menu was also available to us but the others in my group had the set menu’s fish selection, a pan-roasted sea bass filet with thyme, served with mussels and clams, I went with the chicken from the menu. The chicken, a roasted corn-fed Chicken Supreme was sensational. The large breast was stuffed with Morel mushrooms, Prosecco sauce and featured glazed baby carrots. I enjoyed a lot of exotic Turkish meals on this trip, it was nice to have a terrific Italian one.


Chicken Supreme at Aqua at Four Seasons Istanbul

The wine
The sommalier chose a Turkish white for us, a 2011 Doluca Kav Narince. While I enjoy sampling new vintages from around the world, I would have preferred something a bit more bold. The Turkish wine industry is growing and developing with plans to implement an appellation program. I did taste some Turkish reds during the trip I really enjoyed, including a wonderful 2011 Doluca Karma Merlot on my Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.

The service
I’ve said it before, I like dining in hotel restaurants as I think the staff has that extra sense of guest service and goal of delivering a wonderful experience. When you have a restaurant in a Four Seasons, I think that expectation is heightened and in Istanbul it’s delivered. A fun memory was the giant, five-foot tall pepper shakers deftly wielded by the serving staff.


Giant pepper shaker at Aqua.

Aqua is located at the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus. The restaurant is open for breakfast (daily buffet served), lunch and dinner every day, with a wonderful Sunday brunch as well. Aqua has an extensive kid’s menu and really caters to families with some kid versions of Turkish specialties.