The venue This brand’s very first establishment (there are plans to expand to New York and Paris in the next few years) has made its home at the Grosvenor House hotel in Dubai. Covering 800 square metres altogether, Rüya’s spacious interior – which includes a restaurant, bar and lounge area – spills out on to an elegant terrace with fabulous views over the Marina.
The design Rüya means ‘dream’ in Turkish, and it’s appropriate that the talented team behind the concept is d.ream (Dogus Restaurant Entertainment and Management) and world-famous Conran and Partners, responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious restaurant destinations. The design is elegant and contemporary, but it has cleverly introduced myriad details that are harnessed in Turkish tradition with elements of Byzantine and Ottoman empires. These are cleverly incorporated in the decorative finishes, which include bespoke three-dimensional tiles, intricate textiles, murals, filigree lanterns and Anatolian artwork. Not least, authentic domestic objects, such as traditional metallic raki distillers, wooden rolling pins and, not least, a freestanding hexagonal bread oven at the entrance, are all displayed to great effect. The restaurant’s buzzing open kitchen with its dramatic freestanding stove, plus spit and pide area, provide mesmerising culinary theatre.
The experience Central to the entire vision of Rüya is a dining experience that celebrates the best of Anatolian cuisine – commonly recognised as one of the best in the world. The owner, Umut Ozkanca, is heir to a family of restaurateurs, and his own father was instrumental in creating the menu which, under the direction of executive chef Colin Clague, expertly interprets traditional dishes in a modern, vibrant way. We shared an array of quite incredible dishes, including roasted red pepper, tomato and walnut dip, midye dolma (mussels stuffed with rice), and keskek (barley risotto with lamb and spices). We were almost too full – but not quite! – to share a dessert, but managed the sublime Anatolian rice pudding with raspberries, rose ice cream and lokum.
Rüya is without doubt a formidable addition to the UAE restaurant scene – a true Turkish delight in every sense of the word.