What: Kyseri is a 35-cover ground floor restaurant on the border of Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury serving modern Turkish food.
Who: It is the second joint venture from Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie, the duo behind buzzy Turkish restaurant Oklava. Kiazim was one of the four winning chefs on the 2017 series of Great British Menu, having worked for Peter Gordon at The Providores in Marylebone before becoming head chef at his Kopapa restaurant in Covent Garden. Christie also has a strong background in the industry; besides Oklava and Kyseri she was also operations manager of the Salt Yard Group’s collection of tapas restaurants, as well as Highbury wine bar Linden Stores.
The vibe: Occupying a corner site a few yards away from Warren Street station, the new restaurant is easy to find, with a blue painted-front and a few tables outside. The advantage of both street-facing walls having large windows is that the room gets a good amount of natural light, and although the space is a little tight it stops it from feeling cramped. Service is welcoming and relaxed, and staff are clearly well-trained.
The food: With the new opening, the team aim to introduce diners to food that is popular in Turkey but unfamiliar in the UK (read: no kebabs). The most unusual menu items are the two Turkish pasta dishes, manti and eriste. The former is a Turkish spin on tortelloni - square dumplings filled with spiced beef, sitting on a bed of chilli-tomato butter and yoghurt, with pine nuts and thyme. The latter comprises chewy short-cut noodles, served with a sauce of walnuts, lemon-braised greens, herbs, an egg yolk and topped with ‘tulum’, the Turkish answer to parmesan cheese. Other dishes from the snack, starter and main sections of the menu include potato and pastirma gratin; aged Cornish duck with grape molasses, duck liver gozleme, Aegean greens and black garlic; veal sweetbreads with braised wet garlic and hazelnut yoghurt; and halibut with za’atar butter. Desserts offer a Turkish twist on an ice-cream sandwich featuring rhubarb and raspberry; and baked custard with roasted cherries, almond crumble and caramelised white chocolate.
The drinks: The drinks list has been curated by Christie, who is well-versed in the field given that she owns a wine bar. It focuses on wines from small producers in Greece, Lebanon, Armenia and Georgia. All are available by the glass and carafe, and we are told that they are listed in order of body as opposed to price.
And another thing: Type ‘Kyseri’ into a search engine and you will most likely be given a helpful ‘Did you mean…?’ suggestion, directing you to the Wikipedia page for the Anatolian city of Kayseri in central Turkey. The namesake of the restaurant, Kayseri’s traditional dishes are manti and stuffed zucchini flowers, but Kiazim and Christie chose to take the ‘a’ out of the name for the restaurant because it both looks better and represents the contemporary twist they are putting on the authentic dishes.