By Katie Wilson
Hovarda translates to rascal, libertine, vagabond, and perhaps my favourite, ‘a live one’ in English. Fitting then, that it’s the name of this Turkish and Greek inspired restaurant in Soho’s Rupert Street, which has DJs spinning the decks until 1am most nights of the week.
Unassuming from the outside, it’s slap bang in the middle of London’s theatreland and has a tempting pre-theatre menu starting from £25 for two courses for those dining before the curtain goes up at 7.30pm.
When I visit on a Tuesday night, we’ve just missed the pre-theatre rush and the ambience is dark, moody and with an air of exclusivity. As soon as we step through the door, the hostess greets us and offers to take our coats in a way that is almost members’ club-like rather than restaurant entrance.
Led through to the candle-lit restaurant, the interiors are impressive with huge tasseled lampshades adorning the ceiling, bottles of Aegean spirits displayed in illuminated cabinets and glazed fish tiles scaling the walls. Don’t forget to take a peek upstairs, which gets lively later on. Look out for the science experiment-style test tube displays dotted around and Octopus-inspired chandeliers.
Food here is seafood focused and the menu can change daily. Signature dishes from new head chef John Skotidas include Whole Lobster Orzo with Lobster Bisque (£80), Octopus with Fava Bean Puree, Onion and Fennel Marmalade (£32) and Seabass Tartare (£24).
We are there to try out their newly-launched ‘Kebap Tuesdays’ menu. For £35 per person, you are served a huge sharing platter of different kebab meat. When we visit it is Lamb Adana, Lamb Chops, Chicken Shish and Beef Rump Shish.
Alongside this, you get Pita and Lavash bread, the most delicious Greek Salad, Grilled Broccoli, Truffle Chips and a selection of dips such as Baba Ghanoush, Onion and Parsley and Tirokafteri, made from spicy feta. Dessert is also included in the price and comes in the form of Pistachio Kataifi, a baklava-like pudding made from a shredded pastry playfully styled into little nests.
It’s worth mentioning the cocktails are good here too. Order the Mykonos Sour, one of their signatures. You’ll probably want more than one. More highlights are the Hovarda Mule, Smokey Walnut for those who like mezcal and their seasonal twists on classics, like the Pomegranate Margarita. They even host a Margarita Wednesdays night.
If you’re there later in the week, expect to see live music and guest DJs playing until the early hours in the upstairs bar. Check out their What’s On page to see what’s coming up. And if you’re a fan of the Soho restaurant, Hovarda have just announced they are opening a second venue in Canary Wharf aboard a floating pavilion later this year.
Best for: Set menus, pre-theatre, Turkish-inspired food, DJs, late night restaurant
Hovarda is at 36-40 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DW and is open 5pm to 1am Tuesday to Saturday
Prices start at £25pp for a two-course pre-theatre menu, £30pp for three courses or £35pp for the new ‘kebap’ menu on Tuesdays. Starters on the a la carte menu start from £10 and £25 for a main. Cocktails start from £17 and beers from £6
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