Small wonder: Kyseri makes for memorable
Strap in for quite a ride at venue with bubbly atmosphere only found at the best neighbourhood restaurants
07 November, 2019 — By Tom Moggach
Kyseri is a jewel of a restaurant in Grafton Way
KAYSERI, a city in Central Anatolia, is famous for rugs, air-dried beef and tiny dumplings – a doughy delicacy known as “manti”.
The bus ride from Istanbul takes all day, heading south-east via the capital of Ankara. Or a quick jaunt to Fitzrovia will save you the trouble. Kyseri is a jewel of restaurant trading in Grafton Way, a short stroll from Warren Street tube.
It’s a small corner site, painted seductive dark blue. The interior is snug and thoughtfully done, bathed in the soft glow of filament lightbulbs.
Exposed brick at one end reveals an old fireplace – a trace of this property’s residential past.
Kyseri has the bubbly atmosphere of the best neighbourhood restaurants, with space for just 35 diners.
Sit at the blue-tiled bar, where they shake up a Candied Walnut Old Fashioned or Virgin Cherry Sour.
We took a table for two, ordering their tasting menu for £35 per person. Kyseri is the second restaurant from the duo who run Oklava, a modern Turkish restaurant in Shoreditch.
The menu here is distilled to around a dozen dishes.
Strap in for quite a ride: this is unusual, exhilarating cooking that showcases the subtleties of Turkish regional cuisine.
My favourite starter was sheep’s milk feta, served with green chilli, herbs and strips of candied watermelon rind.
You scoop up the cheese with crunchy fragments of baked bread – almost rusk-like in consistency – the flavours dancing between heat and subtle sweetness.
There’s excellent warm bread with a whipped beef dripping butter. The pastirma is a minimalist dish, an array of thin slices dressed with glossy olive oil.
The pasta dishes are remarkable. In the city of Kayseri, manti dumplings are tiny in size – here more like a tortelloni.
Order the minced beef and sour cherry, with a swirl of garlicky yoghurt sauce, tomato and chilli butter and sprinkle of pine nuts.
Erişte is an egg-based short noodle. At Kyseri, the dish arrives topped with egg yolk, crumbled walnuts and Tulum cheese, which you stir through the oozy pasta.
For our main course, a vegetarian dish of stuffed peppers was a little bland; better the slow-cooked short rib with aubergine puree.
Wine is a big deal at this restaurant, with a tight list that will get even clued-up aficionados drooling. There are Turkish vintages and orange wines from Georgia, fermented following ancient techniques in clay quevri, a sort of large amphora.
There are rare wines from Armenia, another country that lays claim as the birthplace of viticulture.
All in all, it was a memorable night out. Kyseri is one of those places that makes you proud to live in London.
I cycled home via Coal Drops Yard, to recce a restaurant for next week’s review.
On Wednesday, November 13, there’s a big party here to switch on their Christmas lights. From 5.30pm, this Northern Brights event will feature music from London Gay Men’s Chorus and House Gospel Choir and craft workshops such as making piñatas.
64 Grafton Way, W1T
020 7383 3717