Surf shacks are not the natural home of gourmet food. But here, in Alaçatı – a village on Turkey’s Aegean coast – appearances are deceptive. At Makah Beach Café, meatballs are laced with a hint of cumin and served with a tomato relish that sings of sunshine (£7). Makah is one of several wooden shacks on an inlet leading onto Alaçatı Port, a spanking new marina development jammed with yachts and wannabe Venetian villas.
Alaçatı (pronounced: al-ur-cha-tur) has become the new Bodrum for the discerning Turkish traveller. Stay at Alavya, a recently opened boutique hotel with 25 rooms spread over six stone houses enclosed by a walled garden. With its narrow swimming pool jewelled with mirrored mosaics, this seriously elegant address also boasts one of Alaçatı’s best café/bistros, Mitu. Breakfast here sees the tables heaving with crumbling sheep’s cheese sprinkled with onion seeds; crinkly black olives; local honey on the comb; homemade jams; yoghurts; breads; fruit platters and varieties of herby salad leaves – all for £10pp. Dinner is equally delicious, including an outstanding octopus and chickpea salad (£10) that combines the Med and Middle East in equal vivacity, and a butter-soft 28-day dry-aged steak tagliata with citrussy salsa verde (£20). It’s tempting to stay put. But Alaçatı’s cobbled streets house numerous must-visit restaurants. Baba ganoush (or patlıcan salatası) has never tasted better than at Asma Yapragı – yoghurty, silky and zinging with garlic. And what chef-owner Ayse Nur Mihci’s does with artichokes can only come from of generations of experience. (Two courses £6).
Try KÖŞe Kahve for excellent local chardonnay. At this café/boutique you can buy a haute couture kaftan and get the latest gossip from diplomats and designers just in from Istanbul. Then climb the hill to Alanchafor views of the windmill-studded coast, boosted by ambitious cocktails and a slow-food tasting menu (£46) from chef Kemal Demirasal. For a fishy finale, enjoy succulent skewers of shrimp and generous hunks of grilled snapper at Ferdi Barba (00 90 232716 9001; two courses £25).
HOW TO DO IT Five nights’ B&B at Alavya costs from £880 per person, including return flights to Izmir and transfers (exclusiveescapes.co.uk).