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Lauded as a “great modern take on Turkish food”, cosy Oklava takes its culinary inspiration from chef Selin Kiazim’s native roots. Sophisticated small plates are the order of the day, from complementary bread with Medjool date butter or nibbles of chilli-roast cauliflower studded with “jewels of pistachio” to meaty braised octopus with ricotta, green olives, honey and “tangy” pickled caper shoots or well-seasoned char-grilled chicken with Kayseri pastirma dressing and thyme. We also rate the herb-flecked lahmacun (Turkish ‘pizza’) and the crispy pomegranate-glazed lamb breast with yoghurt, although desserts such as a rather unimaginative peach and vanilla borek with hot white chocolate and poached peach can let the side down. Prices are affordable, friendly staff are happy to guide novices through the menu, and the well-curated wine list features some “very interesting” Turkish tipples. Also check out innovative cocktails such as Smoky Mangal (Cypriot brandy, charcoal syrup, lemon and bitters).
London’s restaurant scene doesn’t stand still with an unstoppable cycle of new restaurants replacing old ones. Sometimes it’s for the worse, as when Charlotte Street’s Rasa Samudra, a very civilised Indian seafood restaurant, was replaced with a branch of Côte. A bloody, sodding, unforgivable Côte. Sometimes though, the gods of progress smile upon us. Chico Bandito in Shoredicth was a Tex-Mex restaurant with all the appeal of skin rash. It’s been thankfully replaced by Oklava, a Turkish-Cypriot restaurant.
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Lets not beat around the bush – I (and I’m sure many of our readers) are hot as fully across the Turkish cuisine as we should be. Yes I’ve done a couple of weeks in Istanbul this year and visited the likes of ‘Best New Restaurants 2015’ Berber & Q in Haggerston and Palomar in Soho – but really I’m still trying to get my head around it all. But I do know what I like – and I reeeeeeeeeealy like Oklava that’s just opened in Shoreditch this week.Returning like the prodigal child back to London from Australia, we completely missed Turkish Cypriot chef Selin Kiazim previous life at Providores in Marylebone, Kopapa...
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Oklava, Shoreditch – Oklava is just in the right spot, in Shoreditch – trendy and contemporary.I entered Oklava with my gaze fixed on the open kitchen and oven. The feeling of comfort overtakes. The smell of cooking was hardly overpowering, was gentle in the background. The colours of sea blue and white exude a very calming effect. Only soft and gentle lighting to illuminate the Okava, because the natural midday light took control of the brightness of the place. There was this “zen” feeling so when the food was a little slow, it didn’t seem to matter.The place is not huge, so reserving is highly recommended;...
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So I ended up returning to the City on this fine day. Weekend that is. You may wonder WHY I would return to a place with frenetic stress-inducing activities on the weekend.Food of course.So, a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street we found this unlikely little restaurant. I say found like we were looking in vain for it. That wouldn’t be entirely correct… Google maps to the rescue.Like the weekday equivalent of the nearby commercial hub of London with multitudes of bankers, the restaurant was smartly dressed, opening and friendly. No sarcasm there of course.All the staff were women. No chauvinist...
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