Breakfast is a big deal in Turkey. Arguably its the most important meal of the day, and Turkish people turn it into a real family affair, especially at weekends.
Although I’d had countless traditional Turkish breakfasts, the open buffet one at Bogazici in Fethiye on a sunday being my favourite, I’d never really experienced a proper köy kahvaltısı / village breakfast, so on the morning after our wedding day we made the short 20-25minute car journey to a local one just outside Calis/Fethiye, in Kargı village.
The place we went to is called Yalçın Apart & Yörük Müzesi. It is a family run restaurant but only has one thing on the menu – breakfast. Perhaps not breakfast as you know it, not a cornflake or English fry up in sight, and although similar to the usual Turkish breakfasts it offers a bit of variation.
The whole restaurant has a real rustic feel to it with lots of wooden benches upstairs to sit on and admire the view over the village. The village is full of citrus and olive trees and it is lovely to look out on the sea of green, with Babadağ and Mendos mountains in the distance – I always love seeing these mountains, it means Fethiye is close!
Within minutes of arriving and being seated upstairs we had trays full of small plates and dishes filled with all kinds of food delivered to our table and decoratively laid out in front of us. The menu said ’25 pieces’ made up the breakfast and although I didn’t count it seemed like even more than that – what’s even more impressive is that all the plates are refilled as soon as they’re empty. You could literally sit here all day eating! Among the delights on offer were fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, olives, eggs, potatoes, homemade butter, a variety of cheeses, honey, jam, clotted cream, fresh bread, gözleme filled with cheese and parsley and a few other dishes that neither of us could identify! It was so amazing, and so filling. The only thing we managed to actually finish was the eggs and the bread, it felt like such waste. They also bought us glasses of mixed orange and pomegranate juice which was refilled as soon as we put the empty glass down.
The best part about all this, it was cheap! 25tl per person, which is less than £6.50!! The views, the service and the food was all brilliant.
The restaurant also doubles up as museum. Just behind the main building is a little wooden barn, full of artifacts from years gone by. It’s free to enter, and was created by the owner of the restaurant, Enver Yalçın. His intention was to give people an insight into the life of the Yörük people, the nomadic people living around Fethiye and Antalya in the Taurus mountains. The museum has over 1600 pieces, including tools, utensils, rugs and artwork created and used by his ancestors, which he gathered from villages all over the area, along with photographs of some of the nomadic people. Some of the things were very interesting, but some quite disturbing (the animal skins!) The funniest part was an old cabinet which had obviously been moved to the museum purely for storage – the spongebob sticker on the outside rather changed the ‘old’ vibe of the museum! I also loved the notice on the entrance – ‘ chickens will come in, please close the door!’.
This is because the land is also home to some animals – the usual farm animals, chickens, birds etc and a donkey or two. A few years ago this restaurant was made famous in the local media when it married two of it’s donkeys and held a ceremony for them – these animals were later taken away as they were found to have poor living conditions on the site, but they seem to have since bought more. They had a sign advertising very expensive donkey milk for sale, so I presume they own more than the one I saw, but I didn’t see their living conditions so I have to be honest and say I don’t know if things have improved for them.
One last thing to note, the whole restaurant feels very traditional and very rustic and most things (minus the spongebob sticker…) reflect this, including the toilets which are the typical, slightly shocking hole-in-the-floor type! I’ve also been told that some of the tour-guide companies make stop off’s at this restaurant so it may be busy at peak times. Fortunately, on the Thursday mid-morning we went it wasn’t too busy, and we were really impressed.
For 50tl / less than around £13 for 2 people at today’s exchange rate, it’s definitely worth a visit to experience a traditional village breakfast and enjoy the beautiful views.