Is Rüya Your Regular Turkish Restaurant
Your pull up on the side street for a quick bite after midnight?
Something tells me when your sister restaurant sits on the swanky Marina side of Dubai; it isn't.
For the discerning lovers of Turkish cuisine, I'll direct you to a fancy side street in W1K 7 Mayfair, the location of this restaurant.
I never need to be asked twice about going out to eat. OK, maybe sometimes! But when the link to Rüya's website opened, this wasn't one of those times. I'm summering up a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-inspired outfit complete with gladiator sandals in my head. Despite it being a biting three degrees celsius out.
But some good sense prevails, and later, I am instead grooving to the rhythms of
Cheryl Lynn's Shake It Up Tonight as I get into a pair of six-inch gold heels. A cobalt blue mini shift dress finishes the elegant ensemble.
After all, I'm heading to W1K 7.
We're on time.
Mr PWT declares, entering the doors.
We aren't. We are an entire stroll down Park Lane, around the block of J W Marriott Grosvenor Hotel and back, ahead of time. His Greenwich Mean timing wreaking havoc with my West Indian ways.
Nevertheless, we are now seated in The Mekan BAR, with an open view of the sleek restaurant and a private dining area at the opposite end.
The drinks menu is at the ready. However, I do not need it. I've already speed dated their Specialty cocktails and settled on a drink in a red dusted champagne glass.
Anatolian Fizz, it's called. Gin, rose syrup, raspberry, lemon and bubbles. As my carmine cocktail glass requires Gram photos before lips can come together with it, I instead take a sip of Mr PWT's Ottoman Old Fashioned. There take on the classic drink, Old Fashioned. It's less bold than accustomed. We put that down to the choice of Bourbon. And whereas Old Fashioned is garnished traditionally with a twist of orange peel, Rüya took a nod to their heritage topped it with a date.
I'm not allowed more of his, but I think I have at least captured one attention-seeking photo, and I turn to mine. It's fizzy, alright, zesty too, despite that it's the booze-dust-tang that leaves my lips smacking.
Central to the restaurant's decor is a gilt light feature. I'm admiring and secretly hoping the Australian blue opal coloured (though I rather refer to it as Anatolian blue) table sitting under it is ours. To my Turkish delight...
Except someone felt it was (I daren't say), and we instead take up our covert operations at another table.
The menu promises a food journey across the seven regions of Anatolia. My brain wants to investigate the seven, whereas my stomach desires to make this an all-you-can-eat menu.
I LIKE everything I see, though eating everything on the menu is not an option—dietary restrictions in place. The need to fit into an Elie Saab dress I passed in his Boutique's window on the route here (when that time comes) formed part of those restrictions. Nonetheless, grilled octopus, lamb, beef and vegetables escape the restraints.
A sujuk pide too escapes those restraints. Hot and fresh from the open house bakery immediately in front us. It is classic but oh so cheesy, spicy and moreish.
Two plates are on their way to our table. However, it is the aroma of one that had divinely garnished our noses long before the plate touched the table—both from the small hot plates section. My nostrils lead my gut, leads my eyes, lead my hands to the kebab. A spicy piece of lamb packing a punch of flavours and the thin buttery wrap it came with, earns it a spot up there with super posh kebabs.
The grilled octopus offered mouths full of taste sensations, but the kebab held attention.
Though the plates got emptier, neither of us spoke.
Dishes now cleared, I am almost disappointed, but precedence has been set. I am currently looking forward to the short ribs and the Güveç, a clay pot of vegetables.
Slow-cooked for twenty-four hours.
A subtle Canadian accent reiterates from Japanese resembling features as she places the plates down. Her name, Eniko, but she is from neither of these places.
Meanwhile, our sommelier, Filippo and Mr PWT successfully outwitted each other over the wine selection. At thirteen pages long, the challenge is to stay sober. Still, they settle on a Vourla, a wine from Turkish vineyards, Urla.
He tries it. Says it's drinkable.
What does that mean? I ask.
It is good. He replies, nose still over the glass.
Red goes to my head; I dare not try it, but I like the bottle, and it gets my vote. Laughing a little loud.
An outsized dish of short ribs and a sizzling hot one of Guvec make their way off the larger plates section. Lastly, a different dish of pistachio pilav rice and more sharing plates add to the redecoration of the table.
I'm happy about the latter set of plates, as I have eyes on the short ribs I didn't order.
I take a chunk of the ribs. It's chunky alright, has potential, and though the chili in the Turkish chili BBQ glaze is not as bold, it is not bland either. Plates like this keep me a carnivore though I now turn to my clay pot of vegetables. It is good, comforting, but insufficient for me to shift loyalties anytime soon.
Along with my gut, the crowd is growing. A smart, young, enlivened set, adding the (Dolby) atmos to the sphere.
I am enjoying, too, the contemporary decor oozing flourishes of Turkish heritage.
At our table, a show ensues with Eniko, Filippo and Mr PWT engaging in further witty conversations. I'm laughing near embarrassingly loud, belly fulls of it—the hospitality, heartfelt here.
I need to know if there is any food more rooted in Turkish culture than baklava. So at our newly discovered Turkish restaurant, baklava was first off the dessert list alongside a scoop of sesame seed flavoured ice cream—Eniko's suggestion of something a little avant-garde.
A mouthful, and I want the rest. Crunchy bites of filo pastry and hazelnut become creamy mouthfuls of goodness alongside the whipped kaymak, caramelised milk sorbet it's served with. The sharing plates are now a disadvantage.
The sesame seed ice cream is memorable but may not necessarily be for all the right reasons.
The bill is here; it can't tap out the card. Instead, it requires the pin code, but we remind ourselves we're sitting in W1K 7.
I like it at Rüya, and from 20:30 on a Saturday, the Mekan Bar invites guests to a lively music sesh.
Rüya is not just baklava, kofte and kebabs. Rüya is a pricey restaurant with elevated Turkish cuisine and sincere hospitality.
Do you like Turkish cuisine? Have you tried Rüya? Then, let's engage in the comments section below.
Now I question which cuisine to try next? Which country should we be adding to our dine out stories?
Address: 30 Upper Grosvenor St, London W1K 7PH