When Lux closed down last year, frequenters of Suriye Pasajı were pretty devastated. Yet now there’s a brand new resident in the historic arcade to put them at ease: Propaganda. You might recognise the vibrant owner Indhira Taşpınar from she and her husband’s other venture, El Beso in Kuruçeşme. In their new restaurant/bar/club, the interiors (designed by Spanish architect David Garcia) take on an industrial yet elegant atmosphere with wood, iron and steel detailing. The ground floor boasts a more lounge-y vibe, while the top floor is perfect for sit-down dinners. On both floors, you can view street photographer Goyo Valmorisco’s colourful, large-scale works as part of the permanent collection, though there’s also a wall dedicated to temporary works by select artists.
The DJ booth and dance floor are kept behind a red velvet curtain during the day, though at night they almost double the size of the ground floor. Under the musical direction of DJ Uğur Özgönül, aka Low Earth, Propaganda’s been hosting leading local DJs as well as international artists like Peter Kruder, since the day it opened. You can even find Indhira in the booth on some nights.
Perhaps one of the things we admire the most about Propaganda is its newspaper-esque menu, which boasts not only the dishes and their prices but also a calendar of the performances taking place at the venue so that guests can take it home with them.
Alcohol clearly plays an important role here, though as you’re sipping on the light, girly Vanilla Sky (25 TL) – a blend of Smirnoff North, Malibu, vanilla and vodka – don’t even think about missing out on the world fare on offer. The shrimp wrapped in shredded wheat dough (23 TL), served with a sweet chilli sauce, is a must-try starter that’s perfect in its simplicity and flavour. The Propaganda Beef Roll (36 TL) we try afterwards is a more complicated dish featuring spinach, Gruyere cheese and eggplant, served with a carrot-celery puree. We have a bit of a hard time cutting through the meat, but any disappointment we might have is immediately rectified when we move on to the quince dessert (14 TL), which has a slightly tangy flavour due to the pomegranate juice it’s cooked in, and it goes perfectly with the plenty of clotted cream served alongside. The finale is a dish that Indhira travelled to Calabria, Italy to learn to make: gelato. A blend of vanilla and caramel, Blue Sky has an alluring blue colour – but don’t let that put you off. You’ll be hooked with just one spoonful.
İstiklal Caddesi, Suriye Pasajı 166/10
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 12.00-04.00.|