What I have encountered on tours that we have never seen in Istanbul on our own or with the tour when they ate in smaller restaurants is a huge table of mezeler and an entree of mundane quality. We have not ordered any meals--they have been provided for us. This is what I have been searching for in Istanbul. What we have found are meals of mundane food with maybe an appetizer (at extra cost) that are either mundane themselves or unattractive to us. Like I said earlier, perhaps this is what is presented in tourist hotels for tour groups. Maybe???
We have dined at the Yesil Ev, at another restaurant that was nearby in a restaurant that was in a house, the Eresin in Taksim, and other than hat, eaten at small restaurants in Uskidar and Sultnahmet. Nowhere have we found the bountiful and attractively presented mezeler seen at the hotels Dedeman and Kaya in Cappadocia, Kismet in Kusadasi, and Marina in Antalya.
I guess this is what we are searching for in Istanbul and have not yet found. And that is what we want to find. We had given up last trip and ate sandwiches in the room at night :(( Where does one go on their own to find what we want in a couple of days?
Thanks again for your enlightenment.