Seeking out a cocktail bar in Mayfair which genuinely brings the promised innovative twist to a familiar drinks menu is undeniably a challenge. Seeking out one which justifies the hefty price tag attached to their signature martini is nigh-on impossible.
Sitting neatly in the centre of one of the city’s most exclusive postcodes, Rüya’s latest outpost follows the success of its flagship restaurant at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Dubai (which should give you a sense of the amount of money you can expect to part with, and the exquisite interior decor you will enjoy, should you choose to visit).
"We went along to discover whether there is room on one of Blighty’s priciest blocks for Anatolian fine dining..."
We went along to discover whether there is room on one of Blighty’s priciest blocks for Anatolian fine dining, and to sample their extensive selection of Eastern-influenced cocktails at the new Mekan bar.
What’s the occasion?
As you might expect, the Rüya restaurant and attached Mekan bar are well-suited to a special occasion. Think anniversaries, birthdays, and any chance you get to put expenses on the company card. This is an exclusive venue for an out-of-the-ordinary evening, and one that you’ll want to be dressed smartly for.
What’s the vibe?
Step inside this beautiful restaurant and be immediately transported into all the opulence of the Middle East. The interiors, designed by Conran and Partners, are comprised of a series of rooms featuring natural elements including brass detailing and wood.
Teamed with plush velvet upholstery, and beautiful traditional tiling, the restaurant is an operating work of decadent art. The open kitchen serves to immerse you further, with the beautiful smell of freshly baked bread and eastern spices filling the interconnecting rooms.
Seating is a little unusual in the bar area, with tables a little too small to cater for the larger dishes of food — so be sure to take a table further down the restaurant if you are planning on enjoying a meal.
What’s on the menu?
Sophisticated and seasonal contemporary dishes from the Anatolian peninsula. As has become standardised, the concept is drawn from the Turkish tradition of sharing plates.
Taking recommendations from our waiter Alessandro, and feeling in the mood for seafood, (whilst choosing from an impressively extensive gluten-free menu), we shared freshly shucked oysters, the Çıtır Kalamar and the 24 hour Slow Cooked Short Rib.
"Individual flowers adorn the oyster ice bowl, rib meat is served next to the bone it has glided clean off once slow-cooked"
Dishes are presented beautifully, with individual flowers adorning the oyster ice bowl, and the rib meat served next to the bone it has glided clean off once slow-cooked. I feel it worth mentioning that our neighbouring table were enjoying an enviable Karpuz Peynir (burnt watermelon, sheep’s cheese, tomato & pine nuts) which looked exquisite.
"As has become standardised, the concept is drawn from the Turkish tradition of sharing plates..."
Expect rich Anatolian herbs and spices, and food which is cooked well and served beautifully — but do not expect to taste food completely unlike anything you’ve eaten before. The food is a delight, but the recipes behind the cocktail alchemy presented a more memorable tasting experience than those behind the dinner plates.
What should I be drinking?
The cocktail menu at the Mekan Bar is unlike any other I have seen. Taking inspiration from the seven regions of Anatolia, with signature cocktail creations and unique blend of spirits, wines and anise-scented Turkish Raki — a trip to Rüya is worth your time for the drinks menu alone.
"A trip to Rüya is worth your time for the drinks menu alone..."
Flavours are taken from throughout the peninsula; from Mediterranean fruits and tea from the Black Sea, to pomegranate and pistachio from the South East. A personal favourite came as a recommendation from our waitress, called Beyond The Sea and combining Johnny Walker Black Label, Talisker 10 yo, Lillet Blanc, Bergamot Roots Mastiha, Honey and Lavender. Dangerously good.
What’s the damage?
On the regular A La Carte menu, starter plates begin at £7.50 and work up to £42. Cocktails begin at £11, a bottle of Raki can set you back up to £350, and a bottle of wine begins at £30.
Looking to try a brand new wine bar? We visited BOTTLES in Old Spitalfields Market…