Local Face: Istanbul

  |  Published: Oct 1st 2014

Burhan Arslan, better known to us as Bora, came to England from Turkey 25 years ago with a burning desire to work hard and make a success of his life. He learned his craft by working in the restaurant and café trade in London, Oxford and other places not too far away but when he reached Wendover in 2004 he realised that this was the place where he could put down roots. Hence, ten years on, his face is very familiar to all who grace Crumbs Café near the Clock Tower at the bottom of the High Street, Wendover. Bora is thrilled that his original makeover of the café worked so well and the refurbishment earlier this year has refreshed the entire experience enhancing its already established popularity, demonstrating confidence in his relationship with Wendover which he now regards as home. The Crumbs All Day Breakfast is already famous and other traditional fare, including their iconic Panini, is available and offering signature coffee made with the instinct of a Mediterranean.

Another familiar face at Crumbs is Burcu Ayatar, who worked with Bora in Oxford 13 years ago and subsequently at Crumbs. In the meantime, she has completed studies in finance at University in Turkey following up with a Masters from the London School of Economics. She then started work as a financial analyst in various companies. One day, while having a nice cup of Turkish tea and a chat, Bora and Burcu decided to open Istanbul Meze & Grill Restaurant! After all, both business partners are steeped in Turkish culture which they actively want to share with others. The people of Wendover watched with baited breath as Istanbul emerged near the junction of South Street with the High Street. It took a great amount of time, effort and dedication, as they tried to create a unique atmosphere, a breeze of sunny Turkish holiday feel in Wendover! This seems to be the verdict of local people and it has been full to bursting since opening in June. Burcu is unmissable in Crumbs but you may not be aware of her in Istanbul as she is slaving away for you behind the scenes. 

The two business partners are greatly helped by Bora’s wife, Nur, who is also one of the founders of the business and can be seen with her ready smile in both venues. 

The head chef, Kemal, is very experienced in Turkish and World Cuisine, having worked in Michelin starred restaurants for long years in London alongside famous Turkish chefs. The menu is full with exciting healthy Mediterranean dishes, charcoal grill cooked fresh meat dishes – reminding us of melt in the mouth Turkish Delight – a lovely selection of great world wines, as well as highly respected Turkish wines. Kemal sources his spices from Turkey which was once the destination of the Silk Road from China allowing many centuries to develop the specific cuisine.

Welcome to Istanbul!

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