Celebrated Turkish chef Civan Er and restaurateur Cem Bilge have opened their debut London restaurant. It’s called Yeni, and it’s on Beak Street, in Soho.
Er’s London debut joins Selin Kiazim’s Oklava and Kyseri — in Shoreditch and Fitzrovia respectively — in representing contemporary Anatolian cookery in central London, alongside Tim Dela Cruz at Skewd in Cockfosters. London’s broader Turkish restaurant culture is synonymous with the neighbourhoods of Dalston, Stoke Newington, and the length of Green Lanes, where ocakbasi set up by Turkish, Greek and Turkish Cypriot, and Kurdish immigrants serve the communities built between them.
Rooted in Istanbul, the menu’s language suggests that classicism is also on Er’s mind: çig kofte, a raw meat dish, is called çig kofte tartare, which provides a framework of French refinement as much as it might familiarity; see also sea bass en papillote with feta, raki, and fennel. Yeni is also serving many of the dishes that anchor its Istanbul menu: the braised vegetables that make up zeytinyagli, aubergine-filled manti with goats’ yoghurt, and oven-roasted ribs with isot pepper on sourdough with cracked wheat, sour cherries and sumac molasses. This will be prepared on a charcoal josper grill, in a significant nod to the ocakbasi culture that currently defines many of London’s Anatolian restaurants.
Open since 2013, Yeni Lokanta is one of Istanbul’s essential restaurants, where Er “skilfully incorporates local ingredients into modern Turkish cooking, meaning Yeni Lokanta’s menu offers a new direction for traditional cuisine.” Er says: “it’s exciting and humbling to be able to bring Yeni to the city where my professional journey began. Yeni looks forward to inviting London to feast on our take on Istanbul’s style.” Let’s see just how London will feast; for now, take a look inside Er’s restaurant.