Resisting the upstairs bar, we're quickly seated at the front of the large restaurant. On another visit, we'd ask to be closer to the open kitchen with enticing displays of pomegranates and tomatoes piled up close to the pass, stunning aquatic coloured fish scale glazed murals on the wall and the most outrageously large and beautiful fringed lamp chandelier falling through a double height space to the dining area close to the kitchen. It is beautiful enough to elicit a genuine wow response. Fellow guests are smartly dressed up with some rather nifty footwear making for quite a fashion atmosphere.
We're pleasurably distracted by a creative roll call of mezze. Best of all are the already much instagrammed fresh crab borek rolls - made with filo pastry and stuffed with masses of dill spiked crab and a light lemon sauce giving a spot on balance of flavour and texture. If only they'd been fried more lightly. Silky smooth pale pink taramasalata studded with bottarga (smoked, dried grey mullet) is superb though we wondered why they'd needed to put butter on the accompanying pita? A surprise hit was grilled smoked eel with the seductive oiliness of the beans soaking into the earthy fava beans -. incredibly moreish. We loved too the heritage tomato Greek salad with pickled cucumber and capers giving a piquant hit.
In a real throwback to restaurants of the 1980s, grilled fresh fish of the day is priced per weight. We were told apologetically by an utterly charming and keen to please waiter that all the fish available were large and calculated we would be spending upwards of £60 on the turbot. Hence we ordered kleftico, traditional slow-cooked leg of lamb. The meat was surprisingly dry though the lamb fat cooked potatoes were deliciously indulgent. Vegetables were lacklustre - green beans with tomato sauce and lightly charred broccoli whose advertised anchovy sauce was barely discernible.
Loukoumades, Greek doughnuts had to be our dessert choice - these were small, sticky, very sweet and likeable especially with cinnamon ice-cream. The surprise hit was the Greek wines surprisingly modestly priced by the glass and superb.
We couldn't resist exploring the near empty upstairs bar - expensively furnished with highly covetable line drawings on the walls and a female DJ knocking out the beat that threatened to kill conversation below. Still the cocktails were good and service courteous though our waiter at dinner intervened far to often to check whether we were enjoying, yes? We think that with some price tweaks and more confident seasoning, this could be a good place to return in partying mood.
Price: £200+ for two including wine
|Where||Hovarda, 36-40 Rupert Street, London , W1T 1RJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
01 Dec 17 – 03 Dec 18, Open every day noon-11pm Fri/Sat 11.30pm
|Website||Click here to book|