Baylan is an ideal patisserie for a decadent dessert stop. Because of its rich past, there is an air of nostalgia reminiscent of early 20th century. Just like the decor, the desserts also say they are from an era where rich desserts were not tied to health concerns. They taste damn good.
Context: A pastane, a lazy portmanteau of “pasta” (cake) and “hane” (house), is simply a patisserie. Yet it’s used more in the French sense of the word rather than the English version which connotes a bakery with a focus in sweet pastry. Pastanes were the shit in late 19th and early 20th century in the Ottoman Empire and then Turkish Republic. They were the result of Westernisation attempts and a cultural shift in the high life of Ottoman Istanbulites. Pastanes were not only places to socialise during the day but were part of socialite activities such as going to the theatre or opera. The pre-theatre spot, so to say. Often opened by Greek or Armenian Ottomans, only a few iconic pastanes have remained to this day and have mostly lost their gastronomic forefront reputation. Now they live off of their previous legendary statuses, repeating recipes in perpetuity.
What to order: Baylan is an exception among these. Opened in 1919, Baylan’s innovation career has been active for a long time even after the fad of patisseries was dying. Their most iconic dish the Kup Griye (coup grillé) was invented in 1954. The sundae made of vanilla and caramel ice cream scoops topped with crispy almond and honey caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream is still a regulars’ favorite. My personal choice here is the chocolate mousse. Baylan used to be an important chocolate brand as well. Hence their proclivity for decadent chocolate desserts. Their mousse is still one of the richest in Istanbul.