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64 Grafton Way, Fitzrovia, W1T 5DP
020 7383 3717
Nestled on the corner of Grafton Way and Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia sits the deep blue façade of modern Turkish Cypriot restaurant Kyseri. Owners of the standout Oklava in Shoreditch have created an intimate experience with fare that reinvents traditional, home-style dishes to feed your soul. Quiet enough for a mid-week meeting, your principal can escape the hustle of the London lunch rush and settle in to explore a cuisine that has more to offer.
A bit of background
Kyseri is the little sister of Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie’s Oklava, the restaurant praised for challenging what modern Turkish food can be in Britain. Kiazim gained her experience in acclaimed restaurants The Providores and Kopapa, followed by flexing her culinary muscles on the pop-up circuit, before opening Oklava in 2015. After their first restaurant’s success, she and business partner Christie set up camp in the West End to form Kyseri.
Kiazim created the menu for sharing with small groups, taking classic elements of Turkish cuisine and championing them on the plate through contemporary reinvention. Christie brings her experience in wine to the fore, with a prime selection of Turkish, Cypriot and Middle Eastern wines available to compliment the dishes.
The menu celebrates the essence of Turkish fare with a twist: the menu is a celebration of pasta and regionally-specific ingredients. Kyseri brings the best of the country’s dishes to one dining room, allowing you to jouney on a culinary tour through the menu. There is the option to take the set menu for the table, where you put yourself in the chef’s hands and allow them to take you on a journey of delight and surprise.
We opted for a few dishes from the à la carte menu to share, once we’d settled in by the window and had the menu explained by the attentive waitress. The first dish arrived quickly and was a take on a traditional sesame simit, appearing in the form of a sliced bread loaf instead of the iconic circular formation. It’s accompanied by a creamy beef butter dripping with a luscious aubergine jam from the city of Antep in South-Eastern Turkey. Spiced and seasoned perfectly, every mouthful provides a different flavour, alternating between fragrant herbs and salt.
A highlight of the menu that’s not to be missed is the Cypriot hellim loaf and Black Sea fondue – the gooey, warm cheese is the perfect indulgence. It comes from the kitchen covered in dill; the thick and fluffy bread provides the perfect pairing.
We’ve spoilt ourselves with a selection of three main dishes. The erişte pasta was a knock-out, with its gorgeous egg yolk just asking to be broken, braised greens and cheese crumbled on top. Lemon and walnuts break through the dish to provide a fantastic counter to the umami and saltiness of the dish. As with all good pasta dishes, this one would pair extremely well with one of the sour fruit wine varieties on the list.
A staple in Turkish cuisine, dolma is the word to describe vegetables stuffed with rice. Kyseri’s version takes delicate zucchini flowers and fills them with a mint-tomato rice. Complimented with a smooth puree and crispy Aegean greens, it is a delicious dish that your vegetarian principal would be thoroughly satisfied with. The tight spiral of beef and caramelised onion borek rounds off our main course.
If you can, schedule enough time for your principal to enjoy dessert – the Mahlep custard is an incredible end to the meal. The silky custard is hidden underneath a blanket of nuts, almond biscuits, lime zest and cherries; and we were in heaven. It’s a fresh, citrusy hit to the end of the meal.
The beer selection is 100% Turkish, and if your principal wants to pair the meal with a cocktail, there is a small selection to choose from that use a mix of British, Greek and Turkish ingredients.
Image credit: Letter 27
The venue is small, but there are a variety of seating options including booths, tables along the wall of the venue, bar and outside seating. All the cooking happens below deck to make room for a quaint bar that greets you on your arrival.
The décor is a combination of tiles and wood, with dark indigo and terracotta accents throughout. It makes for a sophisticated and modern interpretation of the classic Turkish blue colour you would spot on pottery and tiles in a bazaar in Istanbul.
This restaurant is perfect for your principal’s next lunchtime meeting with up to three or four guests. As it isn’t too busy on a weekday, they will be relatively undisturbed. The windows along the wall allow natural light into the restaurant, and offer the best seats in our opinion.
Kyseri is the perfect location for an intimate business meeting for a principal who wants to try something new and doesn’t mind sharing. Depending on the menu your principal chooses from, they can stop by for either a quick lunch or a full paired wine menu and chef’s suggestions.
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