From the owners of the highly popular Turkish joint Yosma, the team has taken their creative ideas and opened up an Aegan inspired small plates eatery in the heart of Soho. Hovarda is a swanky and flashy new place with some pretty incredible small dishes to share downstairs and a beautiful looking bar on top. This sleek new restaurant sits just outside Chinatown and their beautiful interiors of glittering mirrors and cabinets of impressive alcohol is matched with some amazing Turkish and Greek inspired dishes. It was an evening of tasty and a large variety of dishes in a very modern looking setting. The guys from Yosma has simply pulled it off again!
With the restaurant only open since mid November 2017, their website is still under construction, meaning their menu seems to be a bit mysterious! Essentially, it is divided into a few sections of Raw, Meze, Mains, Salads and Sides. A quick glance of the beautiful menu and you can see it is quite seafood heavy — I am guessing the Mediterranean/Aegan approach highlights this.
The Raw section is their version of sashimi, with Tuna Tartare, Sea Bream and Yellowtail, each coming with some spices and some vegetables. The Meze section was really impressive and diverse, ranging from Courgette Fritters, Eel and Pastirma to Peppers, Raramasalata, Tzatziki and Squid. I was really tempted to try their Crab Borek which essentially is a filo pastry with crab meat served with lemon sauce. I did wonder whether it will be anything like the Borek I tried out in Sarajevo!
What really caught my eye was the fried baby squid with lemon. Anytime I see a restaurant’s representation of calamari, it brings my memory back to the Calamari and Jam at Bala Baya. So I was extra excited when I saw this on the menu and I am afraid to say that I might have found something to match! A nicely salted bit of squid deep fried and not too crunchy — perfectly textured and sized. The bites came with this unbelievable squid ink dip that had some sort of seaweed flavors added. The dip was intense, salty and matched well with the fried and crispy kale leaves sprinkled on top of the squid. A mouthful of all the ingredients and you will be gunning for more!
Every time I see eel on a menu, it reminds of me of childhood holidays to Japan — the eel sitting on a bed of rice in the streets of Tokyo was just scrumptious. Hovarda’s version sees the fish grilled and smoked and on top of mashed fava with raddish and caper leaves. The taste of eel is prominent and a real contrast to the Japanese style — it is smooth and just kind of slips through your tongue. Having a mouthful with the fava and you will no doubt taste the strong caper leaves, perfectly balanced with the sour and sharp cut. Don’t miss out on the little carrots in that mash too!
Having recently tried dishes consisting of one element cooked in many different ways (tomatoes at The Shed), it was interesting to see how the beetroot dish was going to turn out. This colourful dish is really well presented and very appetizing. Deep colours of red and light orange from the beetroot, contrasting whites from the cheese and the red and whites of the radish. The wood fired beetroots were flavorful, with three different cooking methods. The sauce brings this tanginess to the whole dish that combines well with the slightly crunchy radish and the cheesey bits of cheese. This is a beautiful looking dish that tastes equally as good.
Our last meze was the Karides, marinated prawns with lemon oil and tarragon. Slices of prawns were neatly placed on the plated with the lemon dill olive oil dressing featuring prominently around the meaty bites. Fresh tasting dollops of citicy lemon were visible on the plate with sprinkles of herby leaves. The flavours of lemon is quite strong but balances well with the fresh seafood and what looks like chunky bits of garlic. A nice refreshing contrast of citric flavours to the mezes.
The staff recommended us to choose a main dish to share and the Oxcheek really stood out from the rest of the menu. I might be bias here but the subtext read Baba Ghanoush- aubergine — there was no backing out of this one! The oxcheek was slow cooked to perfection, falling apart with a poke of the fork and the smell of the dish really hits you when the plate first arrives. The aubergine dip was a nice contrast to the strong beef tastes and again an interesting combination with the ox cheek. The jus was thick and delicious and adds that extra bit of beefiness to the whole mouthful. A real delight and a great main!
Enjoy the main with a nice side dish of Greek Salad — a refreshing and super fresh combination of tomatoes and barrel aged feta!
All In All
The interiors here were super stylish and I haven’t seen staff as nice since my expereince at the Michelin rated Galvin. Their sommelier was knowledgeable as we talked about my trip down the Mosselle for Resiling. The food itself was just a real delight — I love the little dish approaches — the Yosma team has once again delivered to their usual high standards but this time with incredible Aegan inspired small plates. Definitely recommended and I for sure will be back for more!
Originally published at Out Of Office London.