Glass discovers Anatolian cuisine at Rüya, Mayfair

KNOWN to be the largest peninsula of Western Asia, the Anatolia region of Turkey binds the Mediterranean from the south, the Aegean on its western side, the Black Sea at its north and the Armenian mountains in the east together – an area of land defined by its multicultural roots coming from all directions.

With influences coming from all sides, the idea of fusion cuisine in a place like this is an exciting thought. And though travel may be open and less restricted, you don’t need a passport to take a trip through the various compass points that make Anatolian food.

Situated across from London’s Hyde Park on Upper Grosvenor Street lies Rüya, the Mayfair-based restaurant and bar set to bring the best of Turkey to your table. The warmly lit elongated room is housed with a contemporary dark palette, a nod to its sister restaurant and first out-post located in Dubai.

Ruya Mayfair InsideBar at Rüya

Ruya Mayfair InsideInterior of Rüya

The entrance guides you into its bar area, a slightly more casual seating atmosphere where cocktails are the focus on everyone’s agenda, and unlike many of its surrounding establishments that may lack the pizzaz of a good, brightly coloured alcoholic concoction, Rüya has a drinks menu that thrives of combination.

Try the Nazar Sour. Order the Taksim Blush. Just pick one, or two. You won’t regret it, they know what they are doing and its good.

Equipped for any diner, whether vegan, vegetarian or even gluten-free, Head Chef Patron Colin Clague, formerly at Zuma and Caprice Holding, has covered all ground when it comes to serving a taste of Anatolia.

Taking note from the cultural importance of large families and eating together, the menus are sectioned into hot and cold smaller plates, larger plates and the bread oven, with the instructions to pick a few of each. 

Ruya Mayfair, Salted TunaLakerda

Ruya MayfairZeytinyagi Ahtapot

My journey across this historical land began with the Isli Patlican, a cool aubergine and walnut puree accompanied with crispy coated aubergine chips – a triumphant upgrade from your regular chips and dip. A moorish entrance into this fusion as the textures blended together in your mouth making it hard to slow down and not want to grab the next whilst you’re still chewing.

Next, was one of their signature dishes, Lakerda. Salt cured tuna with mini cucumber bites, taram and bottarga, a nod to its water surroundings and Mediterranean neighbours. A personal favourite was Zeytinyagi Ahtapot, grilled octopus with black eyed beans and an apple vinaigrette, a starter that lacked neither in size or taste – a must if you ask me.

Ruya Mayfair Bone Marrow Firinlanmis Kemik Iligi

Taking a moment away from the seafood, Firinlanmis Kemik Iligi brought the Middle Eastern influence to the table as our waiter poured roasted bone marrow onto slabs of slow cooked beef in a bowl of hummus.

Though these tastes weren’t new, the execution of these starters were thought-through, with a noticeable care in showcasing each plate as it came to the table, explaining what it was and how best to take each bite.

Ruya Mayfair Shared dishes at Rüya

The Izgara Karides, a black stone bowl of large, plump prawns in a fennel sauce arranged over a candle, was recommended to ensure all elements of the dish were contained in each mouthful – a well received note to follow. The other larger plate that followed was the Yogurtlu Kebap, a traditional beef and lamb kebab served with garlic yoghurt and a side of rice.

This was the type of dish expected of this fusion, but the vast range of what I tasted during this dinner made it clear that my, and probably many others opinions of Turkish delicacies was far too narrow and stereotypical of an area that proved to curate its wide range of spices excellently.

Ruya Dessert Çikolata ve Türk Kahvesi

Though neatly tucked away from the ongoing buzz of W1, this is still a Mayfair restaurant with prices above your usual local Turkish establishment but with a service that unpretentiously focuses on catering to your every need, offers a delicious range of courses that can be altered to your requirements and makes a sought-after cocktail, it is hard not to sing Rüya’s praises.

But what’s more is that after two years of staying away from crowds, it is a great relief to enjoy a dinner that is designed to be shared.

by Imogen Clark 

Rüya, 30 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7PH