The sun was gently retreating as we sat at the open-air bar sipping our cocktails. The waves lapped hypnotically at the private decked beach of the Maçakızı Beach Club. Tall, Dark and Handsome had already caught enough sun to look decidedly Mediterranean and was enjoying an appropriately-monikered Italian Job, a mix of Beefeater 24, Aperol, fresh watermelon, lemon juice and a splash of soda. I opted for the more lady-like, and decidedly English-sounding, Cucumber and Lavender Fizz, comprising Hendricks Gin, ginger, cucumber, lemon juice, ginger ale and a sprinkling of lavender flowers to garnish. The clear ocean waters beside us were under-lit and the fire pit was entirely surrounded by swelling green waves.
We were enjoying the northern peninsula of Bodrum and found ourselves basking in the bliss of Maçakızı. The hotel overlooks the azure waters of the Aegean in the bay of Türkbükü, Turkey’s answer to St Tropez. The hotel is constructed on several levels on a hillside down to the bay, and is a masterpiece of understated chic. From the main entrance, one meanders down stone steps through mature gardens full of trees, shrubs and flowers that have been perfectly husbanded and manicured without looking in any way suppressed, to find one’s way via the restaurant terrace to sea level and the Beach Club.
The Maçakızı restaurant sits above the bar area and looks out over the bay and the luxurious yachts that are moored within its shelter. We were welcomed by the sommelier and restaurant manager at our ocean-side table and began to peruse the menu by the subtle light of a tabletop gas lamp. The open-air location was beautiful, and we knew from the outset that we would take our time over this meal to savour both the food and the surroundings. A crescent moon hung low in the clear sky and we felt as though we’d landed in a film set.
The well-constructed menu was filled with a great variety of enticing options and merited quite some consideration. A focaccia arrived, more akin to a pizza in thickness and texture, with cheese melted onto it along with a delicious rosemary-infused olive oil for dipping. Whilst we debated and wavered between the prospect of surf or turf, a shrimp carpaccio arrived, nestled in a spoon with a little coriander. We finally placed our order and enjoyed another amuse-bouche in the form of octopus in bagna càuda sauce. It was delicious – perfect texture and expertly cooked.
TDH had settled on the stracci with oxtail bolognese to start, garnished with garlic cream and a thyme foam. I also opted for a rich meat starter of veal carpaccio with capers, onion, burrata cheese and a lemon cream. Both were impressive. Stylishly presented, they tantalized the eye as well as the palate, and each was worthy in itself of discussion and indeed sharing. My carpaccio had tiny rings of pickled onion which had been introduced to a friendly beetroot, and each had been subtly flavoured by the liaison. The cheese looked like quail’s eggs seated on coriander and lettuce leaves. It was a delicately arranged starter but I certainly wasn’t left wanting. The veal was copious, yet its smooth texture and fine flavor left me grateful for its abundance.
I moved on to my sea bass, which arrived atop an artichoke with barigoule sauce. The dense fish was perfectly fresh and had just been simply cooked, rather than needlessly interfered with. TDH enjoyed the beef tenderloin with crispy bread, black carrot confit, hazelnuts and a rich red wine bordelaise sauce. It was a fine cut of meat, competently cooked and with interesting flavours to accompany it.
Seated below the one hundred year-old olive trees we gloried in the warm evening air and idyllic location. The lights from the opposite shore danced on the water as we contemplated dessert. A pineapple confit with crème brulee ice-cream caught my eye, and it did not disappoint. The pineapple pieces had been soaked with cinnamon and were punchy with flavour, and a bright green cardamom foam was dotted around the plate. I can never quite decide whether I actually like crème brulée or not, but the ice cream was subtle and very tasty. TDH, predictably, went for dark chocolate warm cake with vanilla crème anglaise and bay leaf ice-cream. The cake was decadent, rich and delicious, and we were told that it is so popular that it always remains on the menu in some form. Having ordered, TDH initially cursed himself for having failed to request vanilla ice cream in place of the bay leaf creation, of which he appeared deeply suspicious, muttering that it could “never be a good idea”; before breaking into raptures upon its arrival, proclaiming it to be a work of the greatest culinary inspiration, and the only ice cream that could ever truly bring out the best in such a fine cake.
We lingered over our coffee in order to enjoy the view that little bit longer before the evening came to an end. Maçakizi has an undeniably beautiful location for the restaurant; and the menu created by Chef Aret Sahakyan lives up to the high standard expected by visitors to the hotel. Bodrum perfection!
Kesire Mevkii Narçiçeği Sk. 48400