03 Feb An Evening with Friends: Turkish dinner in the à la carte restaurant Levante
To enter the à la carte restaurant Levante is to feel at home. At least, that was the impression I had as I opened the door. I found myself in a room that radiated so much warmth, comfort, and cosiness that I wanted to stay there all evening. So I did! I’ll tell you in this blog post how those hours passed and about the delicious dishes we were served.
The à la-carte restaurant Levante is an integral part of the culinary offerings at the TUI BLUE hotels Sarigerme Park and Palm Garden in Turkey. Unlike The Restaurant or Purple Turtle, the Levante is not an all-inclusive restaurant, but every holiday guest has the possibility to visit the Levante once free of charge during his or her stay. So go for it! Before I went, I briefly checked what the BLUE App had to say about the dress code in the restaurant. Casual casual wear is fine, but muscle shirts, flip-flops, and beach clothes should stay in the closet. I opted for a knee-length summer dress and made my way down with my companion.
Well-being is paramount
Upon arriving in the Levante, we were welcomed by one of the smiling waiters who led us to a table for two. On the way, I picked up the seductive aromas wafting around: spices, herbs, and freshly baked bread. I already started imagining the dishes I would be sampling. But first, we had to get settled at our table and have a look around. The cosy atmosphere in Levante. The walls were painted in a warm grey-brown tone and framed by room dividers in a mosaic style, giving rise to small individual table groups and booths. The benches were equipped with soft upholstery and patterned pillows, almost reminiscent of a cosy lounge area. Floor and hanging lamps, in addition to providing warm light, illuminated and accented the room – as did the small candles and subtle floral decorations on the tables. All in all, a successful mix of contemporary and Oriental styles. I then turned to the menu, which the waiter had just brought us. Meanwhile, drinks and a basket with different types of bread were served to us. There was also a plate with dips – different types of cream cheese with herbs, a spicy chili-tomato dip, fresh butter, and hummus. Tasty! But back to the menu. In fine, dark hardcovers, the menus were individually inserted and described a small but fine selection of dishes for each course. Turkish dishes were mixed in with Mediterranean cuisine – so the decision was pretty hard! I chose as an appetiser of grilled haloumi with Mediterranean vegetables and, for the main course, a fillet of sole on linguine with a lime-butter sauce and cranberries. Additionally, there were as many vegetarian options as meat dishes available. The waiter recommended which wines to pair with the meal; the open table wines came from that region and included both red and white wines, plus a rosé.
When our dishes were served, I was blown away by the sight of my plate: in front of me was a work of art. It gave new meaning to the phrase “a feast for the eyes.” The dishes were beautifully presented and perfectly arranged – I almost didn’t want to stab my fork into the fish. But then the savoury scent wafted up to my nose and convinced me to do it. If I had thought up until that point that the look and aroma were the greatest pleasure, I was wrong! An explosion went off in my mouth and I was able to taste everything at the same time: the salty taste of the fish from the sea, the sour, fresh lime, the rich buttery flavour of the sauce, and the small, sweet accents of the cranberries. I was floating in a culinary heaven! Grinning with pleasure, I slid my fork into my mouth and looked at the face of my companion, who seemed to be doing the same with his select pieces of lamb with raspberry sauce and hummus.
Time stands still in Levante
A casual glance out the window told me that it had become dark outside. How long had we been sitting there? Two hours, or more? I didn’t know, and frankly I didn’t care. On this night, everything was perfect – food, atmosphere, friends. This was no place for hustle and bustle, but only for exuberant joy, great conversations, and laughter. After we had finished our main course, the hotel manager came over to our table and greeted us. “Well, how did you like it?” He pointed to a large table further inside the room and said: “Even I’m here with some good friends. With the Levante, we wanted to create a place where people could completely switch off and have a good time. I hope you’re enjoying yourselves.” We knew that it’s a part of Turkish culture to take your time. Dinner is regarded as the richest meal of the day, and often requires a lot of effort to prepare. This makes for a hearty dinner that creates not only enjoyment, but appreciation.
Finally, we allowed ourselves a dessert. I ordered red wine quince with almonds and white chocolate, while my counterpart settled on baklava, a typical Turkish dessert pastry. Honestly, I was already full, but what can I say? I can always make dessert fit 😉 .
In the end, we left the restaurant satisfied. All evening, the staff at Levante anticipated every wish from the look in our eyes – they were perfect hosts. We would love to go back!