I had the most fascinating conversation when I visited Oklava this week (finally) on the life lesson of acceptance. If you master this in your daily existence then you are more likely to live a more contented life and I couldn’t agree more.
Accepting and letting go are what I try to live by each day and normally, this mantra works. Whilst having this insightful conversation sitting at the bar at Oklava in Shoreditch I really took a moment to take in my surroundings and show some gratitude to the world, as it really ain’t always bad. I was propped up at a restaurant bar directly watching talented chefs cook some good food in a cool restaurant having an in-depth and enlightening conversation about humanity with an awesome human next to me. I felt very grateful, even for a mere moment.
Oklava (Turkish for Rolling pin) is the parent restaurant to Kyseri Fitzrovia (previously reviewed) and somewhere I have been wanting to go for a long time but due to the geography (west to east) it hasn’t happened until finally this week Jimmy and I took the plunge and went the distance for dinner.
The restaurant was founded in 2015 by Laura Christie and head chef Selin Kiazin (who is currently competing in one of my favourite programme’s Great British Menu as we speak) It was the gateway into the London food scene for this talented gastronomic duo. The menu is a Cypriot/Turkish mix of deliciousness a lot of pickling, meat and A LOT of bread.
Virgin apple and & Cardomom Sour was my tipple of choice (Jimmy too) which was delicious and then we got on to ordering some appetizers/starter sharing plates.
Firstly (and most importantly to me) halloumi drizzled with honey – need I say more? Obviously it was delicious and oh so moreish too.
(I cook alot of halloumi at home but I can never get it to stay soft and gooey when off the heat. It goes hard and squeaky against the teeth very quickly. I have had many complaints from Jimmy on this. However, watching the chef work over the open flamed coals grilling the halloumi at Oklava. I have discovered the secret to lasting gooiness is more cooking time – in case you wanted to know!)
We then had Bahrat spiced bread & medjool date butter (jimmy’s choice) The bread I’m afraid was not up to my ‘squidgy’ standard but it was good. The date butter was flavoured well.
Then onto some Candied Pumpkin with whipped feta on some crostini (more bread) which was good. The candied pumpkin was inspired. Very clever as it added a sour sweetness that cut through the creamy salty feta.
For the main courses, we annoyingly slightly ‘mis’ ordered. Firstly, we ordered the Seafood special which was pickled octopus mix or ‘salad’ which was my favourite dish on the menu. It was truly delicious. Fresh, zingy, light. Soft octopus that just melted in the mouth. A triumph. However it was of course served on…yip…bread.
However, this is where we went wrong as we ordered the Spiced Aubergine Cecil with Tulum Cheese and mint and the slow cooked oxtail both of which comes with a picked cabbage and salad…but… both of which are also served as a sort of pasty/pizza (bread obviously) which made them very heavy.
The lovely girl who was serving us did warn us of this – however Jimmy and I sometimes think our tummies are invincible and bottomless. Anyway, annoyingly they were too heavy BUT the aubergine was scrumptious. Deep and rich layers of flavour with some gentle heat and sweetness. A perfect balance. Jimmy loved the oxtail. Melting in the mouth meaty goodness and on bread…I mean dreamy no?
I loved the colours in the pickled salad that accompanied both mains. So vibey and appetising. The same thing happened at Kyseri with some of the dressings. Selin definitely knows colourful cooking.
We got to pudding, and I wasn’t blown away with the choices. I don’t like Rosewater or rose flavour (then why go to a Turkish restaurant you may ask?) and yes, pretty dim witted but only 3 choices of pudding slightly along this route. So none for me.
Jimmy went on to order the Green Apple Sorbet which sounded like a good easy, light palette cleanser (with 2 spoons obviously)
It arrived and it was tart, tangy and sweet – maybe a bit too tart but I liked the flavour, however the texture was quite strange. It was kind of gummy and stretchy like a melted cold apple sour car sweet. Not unpleasant but quite odd. Jimmy didn’t like it. I actually got quite addicted to it by the end and found it interesting, but it wasn’t a ‘pudding’ pudding if you know what I mean.
Turkish coffee to end.
The buzzy vibe of the restaurant is cool and I love the casual ethos of it and watching the chefs work, sitting at the bar and putting the world to rights.
Did the food live up to the standard at Kyseri? For me no, but as I mentioned I must accept and let go of the negative and appreciate each moment, especially when each moment comes with bread.
Rating: (0-5) ***