Inspired by historic Anatolian gastronomy, Ruya restaurant in London’s Mayfair takes traditional Turkish food to a higher level. Jenny Southan reports on its creative interpretations of dishes and drinks from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea
Located on Upper Grosvenor Street, Ruya is a collaboration between the d.ream group and designers Conran and Partners. It’s chef patron is Colin Clague (ex-Zuma and Caprice Holdings) and some of his signature dishes include 24-hour slow-cooked short rib with Turkish chilli barbecue glaze and spiced Konya chickpea puree (£38 for two people); marinated, grilled octopus with black-eyed beans and apple vinaigrette (£22); and two cheese pide (a pizza-style flat bread) with slow-cooked egg (£15).Opened in June 2018, the restaurant is in the Grosvenor House hotel, although you wouldn’t really know this as it has it’s own entrance from the street. The original Ruya is in the Grosvenor House hotel in Dubai, and this UK outpost certainly has some of the same swagger and bling. (Expect wagyu kebabs, no less, for £28.)While Turkish cuisine continues to grow in popularity in London, Ruya is attempting to elevate the humble kebab, aubergine dip and stuffed vine leaf with a menu of surprising interpretations of familiar recipes.
Karpuz Peynir (£12), for example, stands out for its creative use of burnt watermelon presented as fleshy pink cubes with sheep’s cheese, tomato and pine nuts. The consistency is more like raw tuna, almost meaty, and gloriously magenta in colour.Meanwhile, the Turkish Spoon Salad (£9) sounds like a predictable side (chopped vegetables and pomegranate dressing) but is actually prepared in such as way that every piece of tomato and cucumber is sliced into tiny, perfect dice shapes. The grilled black cabbage Sarma with spiced lamb and rice (£15) looks like sushi and comes with a copper pot of lamb consommé.Owner Umut Ozkanca said: “Ruya’s enticing concept fuses a vibrant restaurant and bar experience together with décor, menu and an ambiance taking inspiration from Anatolian roots. We have taken authentic traditions, which I retain a deep personal connection to, and interpreted modern details for the sophisticated London audience.”The cocktails (£14-16), meanwhile, are really worth highlighting. Effort has been made to reflect the seven regions of Anatolia (Marmara, Aegean, Central Anatolia, Mediterranean, Back Sea, East Anatolia and South-East Anatolia), while ingredients range from traditional aniseed spirit raki to a tantalising Array black hive honey, bergamot root Mastiha, pandan leaf, Turkish coffee-infused Antica Formula, tonka beans, milky Oolong tea, saffron, cedar wood, geranium, Champagne foam, rose and pistachio.The Ottoman Old Fashioned, for instance, blends Bulleit bourbon with tobacco, dates and bitters, while the Trojan War is a mix of Johnny Walker Black, Meteoro, passion fruit, pink peppercorn, lemon and ginger. At the same time, the Constantinople is a shining concoction of Ketel One Vodka, oat milk, saffron and cedar wood. These drinks truly give a flavour tour of Anatolia.