Plate With A View: Tuti Restaurant Bodrum, Turkey
Saturday 24 November 2007
High above the ancient city of Halikarnassos (now known as Bodrum) the Marmara Hotel perches upon a what is virtually a cliff face since a bypass for the city was cut into the hillside below. Its restaurant, Tuti, sits on a terrace that overlooks the hotel pool and the city itself, with a view that stretches out across the Aegean.
Self-consciously an art hotel, the Marmara is full of curious quirks. One wall is lined with miniature bronzes of Bacon's screaming pope; a portrait of Elizabeth I has eyes made of amber beads – and there is a room where guests are encouraged to graffiti the walls.
The alfresco restaurant extends out over the pool level on wooden decking. White chairs are grouped round small square tables decorated in geometric Turkish tiles. The young staff are in Navy whites topped off with black bow ties. They look as if they have just come off a shift on one of the more splendid yachts down below. The menu makes much of local fish – gorgeously fresh calamari salad, fried jumbo shrimps stuffed with ginger, meaty grouper grilled to perfection. It also offers stylishly presented Turkish dishes – a European take on the traditional mixed meze and iskander kebabs presented with a flourish. Hotel specials include an aromatic Marmara beefsteak and Bodrum-style skimmed-milk cheese salad (feta to you and me). The wines are both Turkish and international, with the kavaklideres from Ankara being particularly good value. Kavak reds are made from the near extinct kalecik karasi grape and have grace notes of fruit, vanilla and cocoa. Of the whites, Villa Doluca is a great favourite, dry with an exciting apple zestiness.
While the food is good, what brings people up here from the city below is the stunning view of Bodrum, day or night but especially as the sun sets. South-west from the restaurant, spotlights play on the ancient castle of St Peter while beyond it lies the Aegean Sea and the Greek island of Kos.
Immediately below, Bodrum's main street, Cevat Sakir Cadessi, runs all the way down to the harbour and the castle built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century. The street is named after Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçli, the poet who wrote under the pseudonym "The Fisherman of Halikarnassos". Cevat Sakir was exiled to Bodrum in 1927. His lyrical work made the city famous in Turkish literary circles and formed the basis of Bodrum's rise as a tourist centre.
To the right of this thoroughfare you can just make out the foundations of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the mausoleum built for King Mausolus in 355BC. And beyond it, facing due west, the Myndos Gate, through which Alexander the Great's army burst in 334BC when he captured the city. But it is the calm waters of Bodrum bay and the sun dipping below the distant peaks of Kos that takes your breath away.
Expect to pay 70 new Turkish lira/YTL (£27) per person for three courses. Add at least £10 for wine.
The Marmara Bodrum, Yokusbasi Malallesi Suluhasan Caddesi Park 199, Bodrum, Turkey (00 90 252 313 81 30; www.themarmarahotels.com). Open daily from 7pm till 11pm
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