Istanbul rightly took its place on the map of world cuisines with Ottoman palace cuisine. During the Republican period, newcomers to the city enriched this fame. A restaurant, established by Russian immigrants who had fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, bringing their own culture and traditional flavors, has been a favorite with customers both in the past and today. Rejans was established by Mihail Mihailoviç, Tevfik Manars, and Vera Protoppova in 1932 and Its prior name “Turkuaz” was established in 1924. Hence today, the same restaurant operates underitsnewname:1924Istanbul.Thisrestaurantwasameeting point of Russian immigrants, diplomats, journalists, bohemians, famous names from the world of art and culture, and politicians.
1924 Istanbul, which has preserved its original texture and continued to serve from its original location, is in the heart of the city, on Istiklal Street. It is located on a small side street, Olivya Passage. Coming from Istiklal Street, you enter the covered passageway, and the restaurant is 50 steps away. The stairs on the right take you to the first floor, where you will find 1924 Istanbul. At the top of the steps a historical telephone and cloakroom greet guests, as in the past. According to Sashah Anton Khan the restaurants co-owner, the dozens of keys on the entrance wall have been hung in commemoration of the immigrants who left their keys here for safekeeping. The interesting historical objects that are arranged on both sides of the display case in the entrance seem to invite you inside to discover even more. The restaurant’s entrance floor high ceiling and fresh decoration make feel that you have entered a museum rather than a restaurant.
Immediately on the right of the entrance, the first table on the window side has been “Reserved for Eternity” for Atatürk. Atatürk, a regular of this location, always reserved and ate at the same table.
The names of those who have eaten here are written on the wooden panels of the main dining room, which preserves the texture of the days when the restaurant was established. Everyone is here! The author Agatha Christie, the Spanish king Alfonso IV, the famous actress Greta Garbo, the legendary spy code name Cicero. In an era when Turkey avoided participating in World War II and was trying to cope with the “balance of power struggle or active neutrality,” German and British spies strolled through the city and ate their dinners in different corners of the restaurant, observing each other carefully.
While striving to preserve the local flavors in Istanbul, since the day the restaurant was established, it has transformed the taste buds of Istanbul residents, who are accustomed to different cuisines. Dinner starts with classic flavors like smoked salmon crepe rolls, topik, Russian salad, piroshki and Circassian Chicken. It continues with a Russian classic: borsch. This soup, prepared with beef rib, is colored by beets and cabbage. The famous Georgian beef dumpling, “kinkale”, is one of the interesting items on the menu and The Russian pilmeni is offered in a number of varieties. According to the chef, the favorite is the spinach pkhali and the grilled aubergine and goat cheese rolls.
Duck a la orange is one of the classic dishes served at 1924 Istanbul. Among the main courses that await you are beef Stroganoff with Parisian mushroom and pickles in a demi glace sauce, presented in copper dishes, served with matchstick fries and potato mash. Another classic is chicken Kiev with herb butter and potato Pancake. 1924 Istanbul has reinterpreted Russian, Eastern European and Caucaisan cuisine with a modern flare, while still preserving its authenticity.
For those who like to follow their meal with a dessert, the Fabergé chocolate reavels a secret, inspired by Carl Fabergé’s eggs, and is a favorite. The hot sauce melts the chocolate egg, giving an experience that completes the night.
The tables at 1924 Istanbul are decorated with silver serving spoons, objects, photographs, candlesticks, books, cooper trays, and other fine details and music greats from this century provide the sound track.
If you visit on the weekend, you can eat while listening to live harp, accordion, and piano music. The historical piano, standing at the head of the stairs that leads to the mezzanine, adds to the nostalgic atmosphere.
1924 Istanbul is more than a restaurant -it is a 95 years old cultural heritage institution and one of a kind time travel gastronomic museum that will take you on a historical journey. 20 years ago a journalist wrote, "This establishment grows old doing what it does best attended upon by loyal local friends and travellers that are in the know."