Sunday, December 2, 2007

One Night in Istanbul

It seems that sometimes, you have ordinary evenings out, and then you have special evenings out. Last Friday night was one for the record books, my friends!

Our friends Neharika and Mayank were headed to India for a few weeks, and we wanted to give them a nice sendoff. Meenakshi suggested Cafe Istanbul in Decatur, and when I checked out the web site, I was instantly on board with the place -- something exotic and different, it definitely sounded like fun. Hearing no other suggestions, eight of us opted for this one-night trip to Turkey.

What a splendid idea this was! Cafe Istanbul is a cozy, dark, popular little cafe which is (I can only suppose) the closest we can get to being in Turkey while still paying Atlanta taxes. One side of the restaurant has table seating, the other is dedicated to traditional floor seating. We opted for the table side.

Karen and I were the first to arrive, and we could not believe how many people were packed into the place! We had reservations for 10 for 8:30, and we were finally seated around 9:00. Soon, our party had arrived, and within minutes, our waiter appeared. I initially had some trouble distinguishing red from white wines, even though they were clearly labeled as such on the menu! Shortly after we ordered, an animated belly sashayed to the table and collected handsome tips (for the first of several times) from us all. Swaying to the Eurasian music and clicking her finger cymbals in time, she set the tone for the feast ahead. Our friend Swan, seated at the table with us, recognized the dancer from her own belly dancing lessons. So already, we were part of the family at this place.

The food was superb, the wine was nice, and afterwards, Meenakshi and Neharika took to the floor dancing to Panjabi MC's pop bhangra hit "Mundian to Bach Ke" (click here to hear an excerpt). By this time, the party was in full swing. As the evening progressed, we all enjoyed some delightful berry-flavored hookah and shared stories and laughter until almost midnight, when we all simultaneously began to drift into a pleasant sort of haze. Sensing that it was indeed time to go home, we reluctantly left Cafe Istanbul, vowing that there would most definitely be a return trip.

Like I said, some evenings are just special. Bon voyage, Neha and Mayank! We will miss you, but we'll see you soon!