Brummell Recommends: Hovarda

After opening in November, an evening of Turkish and Greek-inspired cuisine at cool and elegant Hovarda in Soho was definitely on the cards for Brummell

Food and Drink 28 Feb 2018

The dining room at Hovarda
Seabream at Hovarda
Lamb at Hovarda

The background

The fourth restaurant to come from Levent Büyükuğur and Sanjay Nandi of the Good Food Society (previously Yosma, Frescobaldi London and Firenze), Aegean restaurant Hovarda combines Greek and Turkish cuisine in an elegant upmarket dining spot. The term ‘hovarda’, which is used in both Turkish and Greek, is said to refer to ‘a generous host with a free spirit.’ Something the Good Food Society emulates perfectly in all of its restaurants.

The space

Hovarda’s interior was designed by Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa‐Violan, founder of Contemporain Studio in Barcelona, and channels his trademark aesthetic of distinctive lamps, mirrors and glass as well as soft amber lighting, which differs depending on the area of the restaurant and the time of day. A colour palette of sea green and blue teamed with dark wood panelling and tiled surfaces reflects the spirit of the Aegean. The upstairs bar looks down into the central part of the restaurant by the counter to the open kitchen, which is lined with bowls of colourful fruit and vegetables and brightly lit by an elegant chandelier. There is a sense that you can feel at home here, although there is a little more glitz and opulence than you would expect from the average dining room. It’s as comfortable as it is glamorous.

The menu

Yosma’s executive chef Hus Vedat consulted on the menu for Hovarda, which is inspired by cuisine from the countries surrounding the Aegean Sea – taking influence principally from Greece and Turkey. There is an emphasis on seafood and the restaurant operates a daily-changing menu determined by day boat catches from British seas, with dishes such as wild sea bass and Dover sole cooked over fire and served whole. The ‘Land’ section of the menu offers wood-fired roasted chicken, ox cheek or türlü, a ratatouille-style vegetarian dish, which is Turkish for ‘all sorts’. When Brummell visits, we opt for three or four options from the Raw and Meze sections of the menu to start. Beginning on a high, the raw yellowtail with cucumber, chilli and lime is probably our favourite dish of the night. Full of flavour, it’s proof that Vedat’s philosophy when it comes to cooking food simply is the key to delicious fare. The wood-fired beetroot, mücver and crab börek are also delicious, and suitably whet our appetite for the main dishes to follow. After a palate-cleansing round of cocktails from the bar’s extensive list (we opted for a banana daiquiri, complete with wedge of banana, and a yuzu margarita), our main courses arrive sizzling from the fire (a trademark of Turkish cuisine). Nothing is overcomplicated about the food at Hovarda, the wild tiger prawns with saganaki, xigalo and yuzu are delectably sweet, and the flavours of the diver scallops – served still warming in their shells and dressed with herb butter, lemon, chilli and hazelnuts – dance around beautifully on the tongue. These mains are a little small for big appetites but nothing a side of oven-roasted potatoes and chargrilled broccoli won’t fix. To finish, the pièce de résistance: the Hovarda chocolate bar. On a menu made up of cinnamon or mastica-sahlep ice cream, sorbets and exotic fruit salad, this was the dish we had to order. Huge, rich and delicious with a side of much-needed vanilla yoghurt ice cream in a tuile cup, this is a very sweet end to a very fulfilling meal.

The bill

Meal for two including sharing starters, two mains and cocktails or wine, from £150

In summary

If you’re looking for an elegant meal out with a deeply satisfying, fresh selection of seafood inspired by Greek and Turkish cuisine, beautiful and comfortable surroundings and suitably attentive staff, then Hovarda should be at the top of your list.

Hovarda, 36-40 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DW;

Read our 5 minutes with… interview with Hovarda chef Hus Vedat here.