Lousy weather and germophobia got you stuck indoors? Blistering winds and sporadic showers certainly had me wanting to stay inside during winter. For some, that means a whole load of time spent on Netflix; bingeing on Love Is Blind and getting lost in The Stranger. For my fiancé Josh? Hours in front of the box watching Ottoman-focussed Rise of Empires. As much as I love a good documentary, stories of sultans and images of war just weren’t cutting it. But maybe The Mekan Bar at Ruya could.
Skipping the history lesson for something a little more quaffable, I booked us a table for at The Mekan Bar within Mayfair’s swish Ruya. An upscale Turkish restaurant on Upper Grosvenor Street, it shares a stretch of prime real estate with Corrigan’s and Dickie’s Bar. Arriving on a Thursday night absolutely soaked after a fresh outpour of rain, we were desperately in need of a boozy pick-me-up.
For years I’ve held a bias against fancy Turkish spots… when the modestly priced institutions of Green Lanes do it so well, could Ruya prove me wrong? Putting my prejudice to the test, we started with traditional bar snacks. Börek (£9) arrived as crispy cigar-style rolls filled with feta, çitir kalamar (£9) consisted of beautifully cooked squid coated in a dusting of simit and the spicy lamb lahmacun (£16) was just as crispy and flavourful as I’d expect in N4.
Taking thirsty imbibers on a journey through Anatolia’s great history, the bar menu is divided into different empires. From the Hittites section, the Anatolian Fizz (£17) was even grander than expected. Beautifully presented in a Champagne glass coated with a tangy, fizzy raspberry dust and filled with a thick concoction of gin, rose syrup, raspberry, lemon and bubbles, it was like something you’d find at The Connaught… but in far less stuffy surroundings.
Moving onto the Roman Empire, Josh was content with the Ruya Negroni (£14), a twist on the classic with a hint of Turkish coffee. By this point, a DJ had set up shop on the decks, playing modern mixes of Middle Eastern tunes… though to a bar that was occupied by just two tables. If a gilded belly dancer sprang out of shot, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
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The Mekan Bar at Ruya certainly beats an evening cooped up inside (Netflix and Chill is so 2016). Drinks are on the pricey end of the scale, but I guess that comes with Mayfair territory. The real question is – are they worth it? If we’re strictly talking taste, then yes.
You'll find The Mekan Bar at Ruya at 30 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7PH. Discover more of Mayfair's exclusive bars this way.