If you haven’t come to blows with a stranger on Oxford Street, in my books, you’re not really a Londoner. I’ve done my fair share of trips to this unofficial W1 zoo but I’ve never actually considered what lies in the streets beyond. Having never had this cuisine before, I found myself exiting Marble Arch Tube Station and for the first time ever, dodging the many doors of chaos in exchange for an evening of Anatolian grub and cocktails at Ruya.
Depending on who you go with, sharing concepts can go either way. And it all comes down to a) who your dinner date is and b) how good the food is. If you have a couple of bad plates, you can be left battling over the best of the lot rather than being amicable and tucking in 50/50. Thankfully, I hadn’t seen my plus one in this kind of setting in almost four years so our table manners were in top form. But before I get into the sharing plates at Ruya, let me start with the drinks.
If you’re a fan of old fashioneds, grab a pen and a piece of paper because Ruya does a smashing one. So smashing that two rounds were ordered throughout our meal. Stirred with Maker's Mark Whiskey, tobacco and date syrup and orange, the Ottoman old fashioned (£16) was one of the most unique takes on the classic I’ve had in the city. It was smokey but in no way overpowering and the black lava (£16) although it wasn’t as show-stopping, came well balanced and earthy, shaken with tequila, green pepper, rose, pear, chilli, lime and a belt of black salt on the glassware
It didn't take long before plates started to swamp our table. I was told by my plus one that the börek (£11) was a must. I naturally agreed. Four cigar-shaped böreks were carefully stacked on top of one another, pumped with warm feta and fine gratings of carrot, courgette and walnut. Golden with wafer-thin crisp covers, in hindsight, I wish we ordered several portions. We also nabbed the icli kofte (£18) from the hot section. Four darkened deep-fried dumplings stuffed with minced lamb and bulger wheat came served on a swirl of walnut butter, yoghurt and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. The batter was a thick safety net for the filling; however, for the price tag, I would have liked more balls on my plate.
Coming in at £2 cheaper, the lakerda salt cured tuna (£16) was the stronger option. The symmetrical slices of fish were broken up with compressed cucumber, shavings of radish, two tiny dollops of tarama and grated bottarga.
Things continued to look up as we tucked into the 24-hour slow-cooked short rib with Turkish chilli BBQ glaze and spiced Konya chickpea puree (£36). The meat was so tender, it was like running your knife and fork through room temperature butter and the chickpea puree dialled down the intense BBQ flavour of the soft meat, making them a great pairing. A lover of carbs just as much cheese, we ordered the ispanaklı pıde spinach, with Ezine white cheese and herbs (£19). This boat of bread, although it looked pretty, lacked pizazz and was the only plate of the night that we didn’t finish.
Plates cleared, we left it a little while before ordering the hazelnut baklava (£11) and the çikolata ve türk kahvesi (£12). Table manners still intact, we split them 50/50 but from the first spoonful, it was clear that the çikolata was the winner. Thin spaghetti-like strands of milk and white chocolate were spun into an edible nest that held a scoop of Turkish coffee ice cream topped with a sphere of ganache. Garnished with edible gold foil, it was indulgence at its best.
The DesignMyNight Digest
My experience of Ruya was a bit of a seesaw. One second you were soaring high with their old fashioned, the next you’d find yourself spiraling with a mouthful of their ispananki pide. There was a lack of consistency and the service was on the slower side but what they got right, they got right. As you would imagine, the interiors were up to scratch for a Mayfair establishment too, with dramatic light fixtures, polished tables and swanky loos that would look right at home in your feed. So, to conclude, depending on how chaotic my next Oxford Street raid is, I’m at least glad I know where I can go for a stiff drink to unwind, and depending on how hangry the changing rooms make me, some cheesy cigars and possibly a slab of BBQ meat.
💰 The damage: £187 for dinner and cocktails.
📍 The location: 30 Upper Grosvenor St, London W1K 7PH.
👌 Perfect for: A bite to eat after shopping near Marble Arch when you've got some cash to splash.
⭐ Need to know: Whiskey fan or not, order the ottoman old fashioned.
Craving more? Check out all the restaurants in Mayfair here, and for more inspo, sign up to our weekly newsletter.