Few restaurants, of any note at least, have quite as much space as Marylebone’s latest addition – Turkish Yosma. But the best seats in the house, aside from perhaps in the dedicated raki lounge, are most definitely the stools along the kitchen counter. Think of it as strategic positioning.
The spacious restaurant, which opened in late August, aims to reflect the three key pillars Istanbul’s social and eating out culture – meyhanes, mangal and seafood – in a cool, contemporary London way. A monochrome décor is lifted with exotic dark woods and dirty pink marble tabletops, raki is served in frozen on-trend copper glasses, Instagrammers who #havethisthingwithtiles will have a field day.
London-born, Turkish exec chef Hus Vedat had Barbecoa and the Martin Morales group (Ceviche and Andina) under his apron strings before putting together the vibrant menu at Yosma. There are cold meze, hot starters, plates from the mangal and clay oven, and sides – each reflecting a different aspect of Anatolian cuisine.
Cured sirloin of beef with a cemen dressing, fennel tops and (revelatory) caper leaves was an umami wake-up call. Pit-roasted golden beets, sliced and dressed with garlic oil, dill and balsamic, were sweet and earthy. Marinated sea bass was really special – served on a sea-blue plate, translucent folds of the fish, gently cooked as if in a ceviche were dotted with pink grapefruit, lime juice, fennel, basil oil, chilli and a generous pinch of sumac-heavy za’atar. Fresh, zingy, familiar and yet different.
Manti, aka Turkish dumplings, were like light pasta parcels filled with tender diced lamb neck and served in a warm yogurt sauce with chilli oil and mint: comfort food, Turkish style. As we worked our way through the menu, going hotter and meatier, the heavier the dishes got.
The lamb breast, rolled with trombetta, served with a grilled chilli ezme salad, charred courgettes, toasted hazelnuts and a lemon yogurt is the one to save room for. It’s rich, it’s sticky; it’s even better with the tomato, walnut, pomegranate, parsley and mint salad on the side.
Matt Whiley is behind the bar and has created an inspired cocktail list using raki and flavours of the region – the Sil Bastan with yogurt gin, maunka honey, milk acid, egg white and lemon is Matt’s take on a classic gin sour, the Gul Pembe with gin, rose vermouth, Campari, mint and cucumber hydrosol, is like a souped-up negroni. The concise wine list, too, has several Turkish wines chosen for their indigenous grapes.
We go for raki with ice and water with our dessert, though, a naughty künefe. Salty, squeaky cheese, encased in crispy noodles, drenched in lemon syrup and topped with crushed pistachios. We’re seeing it everywhere on London menus at the moment and the Yosma team have nailed it here.
Such a big space could feel soulless but Yosma is a dynamic, cosmopolitan interpretation of Turkish dining in the capital. It feels like fast food, but settle in for the night, and get your raki shoes on.
Written by Laura Rowe, September 2016
Image credits: Patricia Niven
50 Baker Street
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