A sophisticated Aegean-inspired restaurant in Chinatown serving refined Turkish food in a relaxed setting.
Hovarda restaurant review
One year after opening Marleybone restaurant, Yosma, the team have opened their second site in Soho, with a focus on Turkish grilled dishes. Sea-blue velvet furnishings, floor-to-ceiling glass cabinets filled with bottles of raki, and brass mirrors give it a luxurious vibe.
Set just off Rupert Street, Hovarda has a warm Parisian café decor inside – waiters in white jackets, wooden tables for two with Bentwood chairs and parquet flooring. Teal green mosaic tiles showing an underwater scene are a nod to the Aegean inspiration.
To start, a couple of meze plates. Fresh al dente chunks of wood-fired artichokes were served with a salty yet acidic garlic oil. Mücver (courgette fritters) mixed with feta and fried with pumpkin seeds were crisp and nutty, yielding to a soft and salty filling, served with a creamy garlic yogurt.
You’re encouraged to share mains, too, but portions are large so you only need one each. Kleftiko, a hearty Greek dish made up of lamb, garlic and oregano was slowly cooked so that it tenderly fell from the bone, served with crisp, salty potatoes, cooked in lamb fat. Sharp lemon cuts through the rich jus so that there’s a citrusy freshness, too.
The pastitsio with cep, trompette and girolle mushrooms was earthy, yet too salty for us. The Greek salad served on the side, though, was a simple yet fresh mixture of sweet tomatoes, creamy feta and salty olives.
Desserts really stood out – an intriguing selection of classic Turkish dishes with a twist. The Hovarda chocolate bar was a light orange and almond sponge coated in a crisp dark chocolate – Terry’s chocolate orange just got refined. On the side was a whipped coffee ice cream, so light that it almost evaporated in the mouth.
Finish off with a cocktail in the upstairs bar. Perch on one of the high stools and order a gin gin punch. A short drink with a sweet, floral flavour from the vanilla and elderflower. If you fancy something stronger, go for the Hovarda – a smooth raki-based cocktail made with yogurt, Turkish honey, cardamom and espresso with a very strong hit of aniseed.
Menu must-order at Hovarda
Leave room for a plate of lokma – Turkish doughnuts that came light and crunchy, with a sticky honey syrup, topped with crunchy walnuts and a gently spiced cinnamon ice cream.
The food can be seasoned with a slightly heavy hand sometimes, but if you like punchy flavours then you’ll be fine.