The Pudding Shop – Istanbul

Just opposite from the Blue Mosque is the famous Pudding Shop, also known as the Lale Restaurant.  Two brothers, Idris and Namik Colpan, opened the Lale Pastahanesi in 1957.  The Pudding Shop was made famous in the 1970′s by young travellers who Lale Pudding Shop - Istanbulwere looking for adventure in the East.  As explained by Idris Colpan, ‘pilgrims’ travelling East, often driving old cars or Volkswagen vans, would stop at his restaurant to meet new acquaintances and find other travellers with whom to share expenses and experiences.  There was a bulletin board where messages could be left by people offering or requiring rides to the Far East or back to Europe.  The Pudding Shop was the start of the “hippie trail” that led many young American and Europeans on their eastern adventure. 

Pudding Shop - Service areaToday, the Pudding Shop, still run by the Colpan family, more resembles an upmarket fast-food outlet rather than a gateway to nirvana.  There is a smart service area where traditional Turkish cuisine are displayed.  Around the walls of the restaurant are pictures young hippies looking dazed and living their Bohemian lifestyles.  The Pudding Shop brought back lots of memories for Tony, as he too had drifted through here in the 1980s, and he reminisced of his experience with Adem Colpan who now manages the restaurant.

Lunch at the Pudding ShopThe Pudding Shop lost its prominence as travellers abandoned the traditional route to the east.  Also, the rapid changes and development across the city has changed everything for the Pudding Shop.  These days, their clean set-up and range of food attract tourists of a different kind.  We’ve stopped here twice in two days to get our coffee fix and also to enjoy some traditional Turkish food.  Today we met Namik himself and he showed us the picture of himself and the president of Turkey.  He also showed us a brochure of the Blue House, a nice hotel that they own at the back of the restaurant.  It certainly is very convenient to the main tourist attractions and worth trying next time we’re here on our own.

Helen

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