Pretty decent, but some shortcomings
Posted on 07 / 01 / 2012
Firstly, I have to say that this place is confusing, as it seems to alternate over time between pure vegetarian and meat-serving without much predictability. For what it's worth, I didn't see any meat on the menu at Zencefil today.
The place usually seems to be busy, (which is uncommon enough for a veggie restaurant in Istanbul), the main draw being the outside seating in a walled garden at the front. Just don't spoil the illusion by looking up at the concrete sides of the nearby buildings :)
For the privilege of your quasi-rural garden idyll, expect to pay about 25% over the odds compared to average Istanbul prices. And a 2TL "kuver" charge for the bread & butter - ok fair enough, but explaining that it's for a (single) plate of bread and then charging per person?
Price concerns aside, the food is good and I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything on the menu appeared to be vegetarian. There was also a considerable list of dishes of the day chalked up on a blackboard. For vegans, it might not be so great, although still worth a look, however a quick check on the day suggested that none of the dessert options were vegan (try Loving Hut or Govinda instead for vegan desserts). For a restaurant that trades on at least some reputation for vegetarian food, they could have done a bit more to indicate the dietary suitability of each dish.
We didn't have problems with the table service, it was quite fast when ordering and serving. Paying directly at the till circumvents any hassle trying to get attention when asking for the bill.
If you're not on too much of a budget and have time to try a few different veg. places in Istanbul, Zencefil is worth a visit.
Nice seating area, Not bad food, Central location
Veg. status unsure, Relatively expensive, Vegan desserts unavailable