Test Drives

doversoleDover sole

What can you tell me about Hovarda?

This Aegean-inspired restaurant and bar from the owners of London restaurants Frescobaldi and Yosma opened last month and is one of the newest additions to Soho’s Rupert Street.

Where is it?

Wedged between Chinatown and Soho, Rupert Street has been transformed into something of dining destination as of late. Once home to a lonely (but incredibly popular) Palomar, the street is now also home to XU, a branch of Brindisa and The Blue Posts, the latest project from the team behind The Palomar.

Crab BorekCrab Borek

Is there a bar?

Yes, and it’s quite a key part of the whole experience. The bar is set out across one floor, sectioned into four separate areas, each with an intimate atmosphere. The space is designed to act as a stand-alone bar, but equally works well for pre and post-dinner drinks.

The drinks list at Hovarda features a selection of reinvented classics using flavours and spirits found throughout Greece and Italy.We took the plunge with a couple of their house cocktails. Their Aegean (£12) which combines tequila, Campari, clementine, lime and agave (a margarita which travelled via Italy) was our pick of the three signature drinks.

Hovarda Ox CheekOx Cheek, Baba ghanoush, Salsify, beef sauce

And where should we sit?

Much like the bar area, the ground floor dining area at Hovarda is a mixture of seating types. The best tables can be found closer to the kitchen, although the bar seating also looked like it would be appealing if you were stopping by for a quick snack.

The interior design is rather striking, showcasing a broad palette of colours which have been neatly stitched together by Spanish design studio Lázaro Rosa-Violán. Strong oceanic themes of sea green and deep blues are brought together with a tasteful blend of wood panelling, hung fabrics, ceramic murals and an impressive water sculpture, a centerpiece which spans both floors.

LoukoumadesDover sole

What’s on the menu?

Chef Hus Vedat of Yosma is named as consultant chef for the menu at Hovarda, which in our eyes is definitely a positive.

The menu is said to be inspired by the countries surrounding the Aegean Sea which we took to mean Turkey and Greece, but there’s also a bit of Italian influence found throughout.
As might be expected, there’s a strong emphasis on seafood with sections of the menu under the titles Raw andMeze as well as a daily changing list of fresh fish from the British Isles.

Diving into dishes from the meze section, we’d recommend the taramasalata, a Greek cod’s roe dip (£7) and smoked eel (£15).The real standout dish was the Crab Borek (£12), cylinders of crab encased in filo served with a lemon mayonnaise. If we were stopping by for a quick bite and a few glasses, then we could quite happily stay in these familiar waters as there are plenty of appealing options.

If you’re pushing the boat out, then you’ll want to have a look at their daily fish menu. Priced per 100g, options on the day we visited included monkfish (£7), John Dory (£8) and dover sole (£8). Do note, the smallest option here was 600g and largest 1.2kg, so this might be a better option for groups of four or more.

eelSmoked eel, fava beans, radishes, caper leaves

Anything else worth trying?

Unfortunately, both of the desserts we tried weren’t quite up to par compared with the rest of the menu. Both the loukoumades (Turkish fried doughnuts) and their version of arhum baba were very sweet, which we thought could do with a little toning down for London diners. We would however happily recommend grabbing another glass of wine from their vey well put together Turkish and Greek wine list. 

Overall thoughts:

Hovarda is looking to replicate the success of Yosma’s 2016 opening – albeit at a premium price point. The menu is packed with dishes which we’d happily enjoy again, although we’d advise choosing carefully as the bill can stack up quite quickly. Their daily fish menu is certainly worth a look, although you might want to take a group if you’re looking at landing one of their larger catches.

The upstairs cocktail bar concept answers a need for late night drinking establishments in Soho and we’re also pleased to see that service already seems to be very well rehearsed.

Hot Dinners were invited to Hovarda. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

What: Hovarda

Where: 36 - 40 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DW

How to book: Call 020 3019 3460.

More info: Visit their website or follow Hovarda on twitter @hovarda_london.


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