Let me introduce you to Anatolian food which is another level from Rüya London
As the summer draws to an end, Rüya London provided us with 5 courses of the most wonderful Turkish cuisine, taking us straight back to the Mediterranean via their incredible food. Turkish food is a delicious fusion and refinement of Mediterranean, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Eastern European cuisines, largely of Ottoman heritage.
Ottoman cuisine represents the synthesis of Central Asian, Persian, Balkan, Arab and Byzantine culinary traditions, enriched by the introduction of new spices and ingredients during the Columbian Exchange in and around the 15th century, when Europe was truly on the move, so as you can imagine, the flavours are as rich as their heritage.
Having spent my summers in the Med, this is my favourite kind of food, and it did not disappoint, for those of you like myself who don’t eat meat; Rüya London has an incredible variety of dishes that will make you want to return knowing there’s so much more of the menu to discover. ‘Rüya’ means to dream in Turkish, a most apt name, for deliciously dreamy food…
Where is Rüya London?
Situated off Park Lane, Rüya London opened in June 2018 following the success of their Dubai restaurant and is inspired by second-generation restaurateur Umut Özkanca’s Istanbul heritage. One can expect a range of dishes prepared by Chef Patron Halit Deniz and team, which showcase a range of dishes from the Anatolian region that have been given a contemporary twist (hence my basic history lesson above, I have a constant love of learning about food, so stick with me for the main event below).
The interiors at Rüya London
Using a range of influences from across the Anatolian region, the internationally renowned design studio Conran & Partners has reinterpreted these influences into the materials, patterns, textures and colours they have used throughout Ruya.
Throughout Rüya London, columns have been finished with contemporary, custom-designed Turkish tiling. One area of the dining room has been transformed into a bread-making station, where we watched the chef preparing and cooking homemade flatbreads in Ruya’s built-in bread oven -one of the highlights on the menu. At the far end of the restaurant, past the most incredible azure blue, uplit dining table that runs the length of the open kitchen, there is also an intimate private dining room space that can be closed off from the restaurant by two large, ornate doors.
The low lighting combined with curved booths, low comfortable seating and dark wood flooring provide a warm relaxing atmosphere. It’s not just the dining room, the bathroom was a dreamy combination of marble and gold detailing, with an almost art deco touch and perfect lighting (I HAD to take a photo).
The food at Rüya London
Onto the food, the main event. This was the perfect balance for us both, a vegetarian who hardly drinks and a wine expert who loves eating meat; what more could one wish for?
We were kindly offered a suggested 5-course menu to suit us both, (side note: this is the perfect place for a large group, as the plates are a generous sharing style and the design of the restaurant means you can have an intimate dinner for two or a table of twelve). Featuring foods sourced from British farmers combined with suppliers of herbs and spices to create the best possible expression of Anatolian flavour.
The menus offer a little something for everyone with a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free version in addition to the a la carte. We perused the a la carte menu, but we were fortunate to be assisted by Fillipo (who also is the Head Sommelier) who suggested a more bespoke approach.
Thanks to his expert eye, a pair of pre-dinner cocktails appeared at the table, both glorious, one non-alcoholic and one perfectly mixed with just the right amount of spirit, followed by two kinds of white wine. At this point I cannot claim to be an expert, however I was fortunate to be dining with Lady Charlotte who spoke the language of the vine fluently. We tasted Nativus, an Anatolian grape with lemon and green apple flavours, and the Georgian Chateau Svanidze. I’d never tasted Georgian wine before and this had a distinct almost mineral taste to it, crisp and a perfect match for seafood in my opinion.
He kindly talked us through the menu and made suggestions; this is something I always love in a restaurant, when I am ever asked this my answer will always be yes to this as I find it more fun and fulfilling to sample what the chefs want you to taste.
So, back to the main event, before I start; please make sure like we did you visit Rüya London on an empty stomach; the portions are as generous as the multiple flavours they possess, these are truly sharing plates.
We started with İsli patlican, an aubergine & walnut puree, crispy coated aubergine chips and a Turkish spoon salad, both bursting with flavour but not too much so as to blur the crisp taste of the two kinds of white wine that were brought to the table to sample with our meal.
Secondly the bread, ok I am a self-confirmed carb lover; but when there is an in-house oven it is beyond rude not to order. From here came a rather delicious aged Kasar cheese pide with a generous smattering of truffle, this was served with a side of ‘Fire!’ which is a mix of harissa, Turkish pepper and chilli peppers (side note – keep this for the following course, it adds a spicy kick).
Borek, was out next. Thin and crispy filo cigars were filled with feta, carrot, courgette and walnut, these were perfectly balanced and they were the loveliest side or main. For those of you who eat meat, I’ll step outside my vegetarian narrative and introduce you to Charlotte’s dish. The Adana Kebab is a generous piece of hand-cut lamb on a bed of burnt tomato, Charlotte doesn’t usually eat lamb but was convinced to order this, it wasn’t quite her thing as it was quite fatty but I know people who’d love its meaty taste.
Umut’s Bayildi was the next dish, and this consisted of a confit of aubergine, slow-cooked onions, tomato sauce and feta. Served in a sizzling pot, this works a delicious side as well as a main.
So, by now as you can imagine, we were rather full and content, however, ironically Baklava is my favourite sweet of choice and where possible I’d choose it over a traditional British pudding. Charlotte and I shared the Hazelnut Baklava with whipped kaymak and caramelised milk sorbet, again the perfect sweet sharing dish to finish your meal.
The staff at Rüya London
A contemporary venue, influenced by tradition and the warmth of Turkish hospitality, Rüya London certainly has that covered, from the moment you step into the restaurant from Park Lane to sitting at your table, nothing is too much trouble. *For those of you more educated than I in the ways of wine, also be sure to ask for Fillippo.
Rüya London is definitely worth a visit, or more, the varied menu means that you could dine here on more than one occasion and the staff and surroundings are top notch.