Mehmet Gürs, an international Finn
Finnish-Turkish Mehmet Gürs, the creator of Restaurant Andrea on the ground floor of Hotel St. George, is an international restaurant superstar. His restaurant in Istanbul, Mikla, has been named as one of the 50 best dining establishments in the world. Gürs takes the cultural meaning of food very seriously – in fact, his team even includes a food anthropologist.
Gürs was born in Tammisaari in southern Finland, but he has built his career around the world. His aim is to shake up the dated concept of a hotel restaurant. To Gürs, a restaurant is always just a restaurant, regardless of where it’s located. In his words, Restaurant Andrea is sophisticated yet still fun and relaxed.
—Andrea is a local eatery, which welcomes both city residents and hotel visitors. It’s a place that seems as if it’s always been in the same spot, on the corner of Lönnrotinkatu and Yrjönkatu streets. That was our aim.
Andrea brings two cultures together
— The food at Andrea has been inspired by two very different areas, Northern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean. One of these in cool and calm, the other one is rich and lively. These food cultures, while seemingly very different, are an excellent match. Both are natural and unpretentious, Gürs says.
The menu is approachable, but Gürs still promises a world of strong tastes and spices. Chili, tahini and nuts abound. Traditional tomato and red pepper pastes play an important role in creating Anatolian flavours. The majority of ingredients are organic and local, sourced from small producers in Finland and other Nordic countries.
— We serve, for example, sumac marinated herring, artichokes marinated in olive oil, blueberry soup, halva, and Finnish charcuterie and cheese. This may sound a bit crazy, but the flavours combine really well, Gürs says.
Quintessentially Anatolian flat bread, pide, is freshly baked in the restaurant’s wood fire oven. Another highlight on the menu is Turkish artisan halva, flavoured with lemon and fried in a cast iron pan.
Gürs champions sharing and service
Besides delicious food, Andrea focuses on service. The restaurant wants its customers to truly relax and allow themselves to be pampered. Instead of worrying about unnecessary rules, the experience is all about enjoying good food and wine with friends.
— Best of all, the dishes are meant to be shared, just like in a traditional meyhane restaurant in Istanbul. Food always tastes better when it’s shared in good company, Mehmet Gürs says.
Published 15th of October, 2018. Photos: Tiiu Kaitalo & Elvi Rista