Having missed out on their soft launch, I was excited to dine at Yosma a couple of days ago, one of the latest openings in Marylebone that brings together the three pillars of Istanbul’s social and eating out culture – meyhane, mangal, and seafood.
I don’t exactly recall having Turkish food in the past, but I had a feeling that we were definitely going to be well-fed that evening …
The contemporary interior which was designed by Afroditi Krassa is inspired by Istanbul’s vast history, with materials that reflect a traditional meyhane (tavern). Alongside normal table seating, the restaurant features an open kitchen with mangal grill and counter dining – ideal for those who love a bit of ‘behind-the-scenes’ action. A raki lounge bar occupies one side of the space, serving cocktails created by Matt Whiley a.k.a. ‘Talented Mr Fox’ – I sadly missed out on the cocktail tasting part of the evening as I was busy sweating it out to the tunes of Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’.
I’m still curious to find out if doves do actually sound of couple’s screaming at each other …
The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Hus Vedat who is of Turkish heritage, and has previously worked at the AA Rosette Caxton Grill and Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa.
The menu is designed to showcase the depth, character and history of Anatolian food, exploring influences and flavours from his heritage.
As we settled outselves in at the dinner table, the lovely Spencer, who was our host for the evening, poured us glasses of Raki, Turkey’s national aperitif.
This was my first time trying Raki, which had a really strong smell of aniseed – we were encouraged to have it neat first, which was a bit of a shock to the system for me (!). We were each provided with chilled beakers of water which we added in equal portions, forming an opaque mixture that was then MUCH more palatable.
It strangely reminded me of this old Chinese medicine that I used to be given as a child when I had stomach aches. Maybe Raki could have some similar medicinal properties … ?
I was thankful when the food was brought out, realizing that I was drinking on an empty stomach, right after a workout – naughty, naughty.
An array of delicious starters and dips was spread across the table: kavun (melon) with cubes of salty feta, creamy hummus sprinkled with tahini, lemon and garlic, and fava which was crushed broad beans which held together firmly in a shallow cylindrical shape that spread quite smoothly onto the bread.
I was a particular fan of the Köpoğlu (pronounced kop-og-loo) which consisted of aubergine, green pepper, tomato and yogurt – I do love anything with aubergine, although the texture may not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly tantalizes mine.
The Pancar was also very good – thinly sliced pit roasted golden beetroot with a generous drizzle of garlic oil and dill. Garlic and dill seem to play quite a role in these vegetarian dishes. This dish interestingly felt and tasted a bit like smoked salmon, which slightly confused my tastebuds, but in a good way.
After cleansing our palate with a few sips of fermented beetroot juice, we then moved on to the meat and fish dishes. Delicate slices of pastırma (air-dried cured beef of Anatolian origin) packed some strong flavours, followed by a tangy, refreshing dish of Levrek Marine – marinated seabass which had a nice balance sweetness from the grapefruit and heat from the green chilli. A Turkish version of ceviche that I am quite a fan of.
Then arrived the main highlight of the meal – huge trays descended upon our table which carried whole barbecued turbot, eyes and mouth gaping in my direction as I zoomed in to take a shot.
Sourced from day boats off Cornwall, the flesh was really fresh and was a delight to eat without the need for too much seasoning.
I was actually quite full by that point but refused to stop eating as I felt bad having to waste such good food (!)
It has been a while since I had a cup of Turkish coffee. My first cup was made by this guy that I used to date which immediately converted me – because it tasted good, and NOT just because he was rather good-looking …
Sadly there have not been many coffee enthusiasts in my dating ventures since, but I digress …
We were treated to a trio of desserts, all of which I enjoyed – no surprise there.
There was Şambalı which was a moist semolina cake with almonds and mastic ice cream on the side, and Armut Pişmaniye which consisted of a sweet poached pear topped with cotton candy, basil and walnuts.
The third dessert was Künefe, a heavenly Turkish dessert made with cheese and shredded Kadayif dough soaked in sweet syrup. Baked to a golden colour, the outside was nice and crisp, and we ‘ooh-ed’ in appreciation as the strings of cheese stretched with each pull.
We also attempted to read our fortunes when the leftover sludge in our coffee cups had dried up. Mine apparently had a blurry image of a running man and traffic lights.
I may have to ponder this over another cup of coffee.
I think we did well devouring most of the dishes, with hardly any leftovers – especially Duyku and I that tackled a whole turbot by ourselves, alongside our second round of Raki (!) #GirlPower *flexes biceps (rubs food baby)*
I have always loved the concept of sharing dishes and would recommend trying out the Meyhane set menu, if you, like me, are getting your first taste of Turkish food – a nice variety of dishes at a good price value (£29 pp – excluding dessert).
The menu does change regularly but I’m sure each one will be just as appetizing.
There is also news that a breakfast menu will be launching soon at a later date that would definitely tempt me back for another visit.
And I also must return for that lamb …
The Cheekster, signing out x
The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.