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This traditional meat restaurant, as they call themselves as opposed to a kebap shop, specialises in offal. Sweetbreads, pancreas, liver, kidneys, kokoreç, intestines are the prime cuts they serve. Sadrazam Mahmut is the perfect destination for adventurous meat eaters. It provides a no-fuss, calm atmosphere, with elegant service and a small view of the Golden Horn.
Context: The owner Ilgın Bey, the namesake Mahmut’s son, is a funny, respectful and smart man. He also has some practical jokes up his sleeve that he shares with special guests. Sadrazam Mahmut is the regular’s spot. There are brass plaques commemorating regulars by their favorite tables. The ambiance is not fancy at all, but clean and orderly with brass chimneys. Get the balcony looking at the trees in front of the Golden Horn when there is good weather, and go with a hunger for protein and open mind for unusual body parts.
What to order: In this order my favorite plates here are uykuluk (grilled sweetbreads), böbrek (grilled kidneys) and Sadrazam pilavı (a chef’s special boulgour pilav with dollops of butter and kavurma, prepared at the table). There is alcohol. And the few mezes are the no-mistake kind, still they do not shine as bright as the meats. The şakşuka (cold, braised aubergines with tomato sauce) and pazı kavurma (braised chard) are highlights.
What to know: Sadrazam Mahmut is located right at the bottom end of Sütlüce, an area historically famous for its pastures and meat production (Sütlüce can be roughly translated as “milkful”, meaning it was also the milk production site). Still meat restaurants are attached to the now conservative neighborhood and hence serve to a diverse clientele. For instance Sadrazam Mahmut, while it serves alcohol, could be empty or even closed on aholy day like Kandil (five nights a year celebrating the highlights of the prophet Muhammad’s life).
On a culinary note, one can generalise what a good offal should be like: slightly charred on the outside without drying up, cooked (not bloody) but not dried on the inside. Offal tends to come with certain spices on the side: cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes. Cumin I believe pairs perfectly with these nutty and soft cuts of meat, so much so that I occasionally dip it in like it’s a margarita glass being rimmed.