We were recommended Zencefil by our hotel as a good vegetarian restaurant. For some reason it did not come up on Happy Cow when I searched the local area, as having now seen some of the previous reviews I probably would've thought twice about going.
The restaurant is full of character and the outdoor seating area was lovely. Decorated nicely and had a charming and welcoming feel. Sadly though the staff soon ruin the ambience!
Staff are unhelpful, unfriendly, not knowledgable about their food or about vegan options. Overwhelming feeling that customers are a bit of a nuisance!
When asked about vegan options and having to explain what this meant, the waiter stated he would have to go to the kitchen. He eventually came back to the table to tell me I could have the lentil soup as it does not have flour in it. When my sister tried to explain flour isn't a problem he became comfrontational and said he knew that. Confusing. Vegan options aren't listed on the menu and although most of the menu is vegetarian there is not much of a description about what's in the food or what comes with it. There was one chicken dish on the menu when we visited.
I had the lentil patties and asked what this came with, he replied with a salad. When it arrived the lentil patties were stone cold, looked like they had been squashed in someone's hand and plonked on tiny bits off ripped off iceberg lettuce. The taste was bland and unimaginative. The cost was unreasonable for the standard and portion size. My sister had the lasagne which appeared to have been microwaved and again lacked any flavour.
Staff did not come and ask how the meal was, whether we wanted any more drinks and completely ignored us and others whilst having a conversation inside the restaurant. Even when we asked for the bill they appeared disinterested. They did not ask why so much food was left or offer a discount on the bill. We paid and promptly left.
Shame as it ruined our last night in what had otherwise been a fantastic stay in beautiful Istanbul. We had much better service and food in another restaurant the night before and they went out of their way to cater for us even though most of their menu wasn't suitable. Expected much more from a restaurant that had been billed as vegetarian, popular and apparently open for 20 years.
Cons: Miserable and unhelpful staff, Not aware of vegan options, Food unimaginative, bland, overpriced