Located on the top floor of what looks like a bright pink doll's house, but is actually a 19th-century jewelry han (atelier) built on the site of a former dungeon, this restaurant manages to take in almost all of Istanbul's major sites with its panoramic views. Opened in 2014 by Turkish food ambassador Vedat Basaran, Surplus is a welcome asset to Istanbul's already booming restaurant scene. The man who helped to rediscover the tastes of the Ottoman Palaces and introduce Istanbul to Turkey's lesser-known regional tastes in his previous ventures has now created a menu that represents the cosmopolitan nature of the city. Taking its cues from Turkey's Ottoman past, it offers a chance to taste the diversity of an empire that once spanned three continents.
Original Ottoman ornaments are tastefully placed among its simple and elegant décor, yet when the food arrives, it is anything but antique. Smears of fig jus under a lamb loin, sea bass served in a smoke-filled glass dome, and a cured meats selection served on a wooden stand indicate that that Surplus only has one foot in the past. While the presentation can verge on the pretentious, it is backed up by chefs who seem to know what they're doing. Whether it's from the regionally sourced produce, the thoroughly researched recipes, the extensive wine list, or the contemporary flourishes, each plate represents an aspect of Istanbul's history. Being surrounded by views of towering minarets, endless domes, and busy waterways just adds to effect.