Esra Muslu, a star of Istanbul’s dining scene, has confirmed that she is opening her debut London restaurant. Mooted since March 2018 after a residency at Marylebone’s Carousel, Zahter will open at 30 — 32 Foubert’s Place in the heart of Carnaby. Detailed restaurant drawings submitted to Westminster Council in 2019 presented an intriguing picture of an intimate, varied dining experience — as far as drawings can — and Muslu is now in a position to open the restaurant this October.
Initially open for lunch and dinner but planning to do breakfast in time, it is dubbed as “Istanbulite” cuisine.
Plans for the building comprise a ground floor open kitchen, a first floor bar with additional tables, and a second floor with further tables and a “workshop space.” The ground floor is small, with only a few tables and counter seating — natch — with a custom grill and pizza oven. The first floor has a more straightforward bar plus seating layout, but the second, with its workshop space, has an even smaller kitchen with a small hob range, as well as kitchen island seating and lounge-style furnishings — space for private events, perhaps even an experimental menu.
Muslu, last cooking at Ottolenghi Spitalfields and previously executive chef at Istanbul’s Soho House, ran a successful Carousel residency in March 2018, serving the likes of grilled octopus, broad bean puree, dill, parsley and spring onion; and roasted lamb shoulder, aubergine begendi and dukkah. She also opened four restaurants in the city with Zeynep Moroğlu, the well-received Backyard, Auf, Kauf, and Unter.
Muslu heads into an area whose previously city-defining restaurant scene is evolving, with savvy expansions and chains more common than new independents. It also joins Yeni, another contemporary Turkish restaurant in Soho, which opened in February 2019.