- The Dish: Turkish breads with medjool date butter
- The Place: 64 Grafton Way, Bloomsbury, London W1T 5DN
- The Chef: Selin Kiazim
Celebrated Turkish chef, Selin Kiazim – who won the 2017 edition of Great British Menu – is to open a Turkish bakery operation in Fitzrovia in January 2020, with Oklava Bakery and Wine to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a Saturday brunch.
The focus will be on breads and pastries, snacks and sharing plates, with a variety of different brunch items aiming to capitalise on current bakery trends in the capital.
Middle Eastern cuisines have been gradually entering into mainstream over the past year or so. We’ve seen several new restaurant openings in London, with Waitrose highlighting the region as one to keep an eye on in retail next year.
Kiazim’s existing Oklava restaurant in Shoreditch is one of the most well-respected Turkish eateries in the country, with her upcoming bakery coming from “her long-time personal passion for Turkish baking.”
On that brunch menu will be a hellim (halloumi) and medjool date butter toastie, channelling permissible indulgence and a nod towards the mutterings of a potential craft butter trend across foodservice and retail. The menemen, meanwhile, is a classic Middle Eastern breakfast dish of scrambled eggs with peppers, tomatoes, chilli and potatoes.
Broken eggs and house cured pastirma (well- seasoned, air-dried cured beef) is also a standout, while the bakery itself will champion the best of Turkish breads, including a baharat-spiced option, a bagel-shaped simit topped with sesame seeds, a daily-changing börek and poğaça: a soft brioche-esque bun.
Oklava Bakery and Wine will occupy the space left by Kiazim’s second restaurant, Kyseri, which officially closes this weekend.
“Not enough people know about Kyseri so we’ve decided to close the doors,” said Kiazim.
“I think this area [West London] has an amazing all-day vibe potential. It’s screaming out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’re bringing our style to it, that modern Turkish flair.”
As a cuisine, Turkish hasn’t quite unlocked the potential of relevant London consumer trends over the past few years, but not for lack of trying.
“My food is always about exploring different areas and bringing that back to UK diners and showing them that there is more to Turkish food than just mezzes and kebabs,” Kiazim told Food Spark last year at the opening of Kyseri, which is now being sacrificed for the bakery to emerge.
While Kyseri didn't put enough bums on seats, CGA and AlixPartners found that, in the last five years up to August 2019, the amount of Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants in the UK increased by more than 60% to a combined 668 restaurants.
Considering the booming trend in brunch and the surge in bakery, Kiazim could be on to a winner in terms of casual dining Turkish.
According to a recent survey from The NPD Group, overall bakery visits in the UK are up 3.5% to YE September 2019, with bakery now representing over 21% of all OOH servings in Britain – an increase of 2.5% to a total of 6.2bn.
And, by 2022, bakery visits could increase by as much as 10% (or 470m visits), led by savoury bakery products (12% visits), while sweet bakery visits could increase by 8% (108m visits).
Meanwhile, a Streetbees survey in July found overall that 49% of people are eating more brunch than a year ago, with 57% of 18- to 25-year-olds dining out compared to 36% of 46+ year-olds.
OpenTable research from last year found breakfast and brunch bookings in the UK have more than doubled, with a 65% increase in the last two years.
Last year saw the emergence of a new bakery juggernaut, Simit Sarayi, who have grasped the potential of Turkish bakery with two hands, while serial restauranteur Alan Yau has plans to relocate his Yamabahçe pop-up, which focuses on pide – a canoe-shaped Turkish flatbread/pizza cooked with a variety of fresh ingredients – to a new, permanent site in Westfield early next year.
Aside from bakery opportunities, the humble kebab may enjoy success next year, with Bidfresh’s recent ‘2020 Vision’ foodservice report predicting a bump for skewered foods such as the Turkish staple.
Moves are being made in the capital to help change perceptions of a greasy, fatty donner, with Fanny’s Kebabs – a more gourmet street food take – part of the launch line-up of the high-profile Market Halls West End food hall concept, while Kebab Queen, a high-level kebab experience, opened in Covent Garden earlier this year.