London has been exporting restaurants to Dubai for years so it’s only fair that the UAE should return the favour. Ruya, which also has an outpost in Istanbul, takes up a large corner of the ground-floor of Grosvenor House, although with its own street entrance, you’d never know you were in a hotel.
It was formerly a branch of Barclays bank, a heritage which has gifted a long space perfectly proportioned for a restaurant, with a lounge bar at the front and the dining room beyond, all beautifully tiled and lit by Conran and Partners. Cocktails in the bar are excellent as too fizz like Louis Roederer Brut Prem and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs; terrible acoustics make the restaurant less relaxing to spend time in.
Ruya is billed as an Anatolian restaurant, but the approach is more like a Zuma-esque spin on Turkish food, with small plates of high-protein ingredients – although the best thing we ate was the carb-loaded cheese pide baked in the flames of the bread oven and with a runny-yolked egg broken over it at the table. Other hits include lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine, tomato and minted yoghurt, grilled prawns with pickled fennel butter, and a whole grilled sea bream: all enjoyable, if not exactly distinctly Turkish.
You can, of course, find excellent Turkish cooking in north-east London for a fraction of the price, which is a bit like saying you can eat authentic Korean food if you’re prepared to travel to New Malden. Ruya’s target market are the international diners for whom London doesn’t extend beyond Mayfair and Knightsbridge and who will feel as at home here as they would in the Dubai original – and the place is already rammed.