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Raki 20 Launches

We are excited to announce the launch of the Rakı 20 – a unique series of dinner events which will take place across London in some of the city’s top restaurants and we want you to join us!

Yeni Rakı will be hosting twenty intimate dinners in some of the best restaurants across the capital. The Rakı 20 will embody the atmosphere of the Rakı table – a place where the best people come together and connect over good food and Yeni Rakı.

We launch at the brilliant Peckham Bazaar. To be in with a chance of winning two seats for you and a guest at the first Rakı 20 dinner email us here with the subject heading “RAKI 20” and your name, age and phone number in the email. Winners will be selected at random and contacted directly with more information on attending.

Good Luck.

11/11/2014: Dabbous’ Dinner

Our first guests gathered at London’s Dabbous restaurant to experience the art of slow dining in the first of our Raki 20 dinner series. Head chef, Ollie Dabbous crafted dishes to be savoured over, all inspired by the aniseed flavour of Yeni Raki. The delicious menu included grilled lamb shoulder with violet, raw scallop with eucalyptus and cigar leaf caramel chocolates.

Where’s the pleasure in rushing through three courses before the next reservation arrives? Or skipping straight to mains because you are running late for your next meeting? We’re mastering the art of extending memorable moments and we believe that dinner should be a slow affair.  This is what the Yeni Raki 20 is designed to do.

13/11/2014: Peckham Bazaar

Last night London restaurant, Peckham Bazaar kicked off Raki 20, our dinner series which aims to bring the 500 year old raki rituals to London’s most cutting-edge restaurants. The raki tables will be served a bespoke menu crafted to reflect each restaurant’s take on the ethos and flavour of Yeni Raki.

As Peckham Bazaar welcomed in their first guests to a night of slow dining, we chatted with head chef, John Gionleka over a glass of Yeni Raki.

What has influenced your Raki 20 menu tonight?

My menu is the celebration of the slow drinking. It’s a celebration of all that has come before us and will be there long after we go. I’ve chosen the things I like to eat when I’m sitting on the shores of The Bosphorus enjoying a glass of Yeni Raki.

Of course, raki is a drink of many stories and experiences to be shared with friends but ultimately, in the part of the world I come from -the east Mediterranean, raki has remained one of the prominent drinks for at least a millennium.

It’s this history that I’ve referenced in my menu. I aim to bring together the old and the new, the Ottoman experience with the young, vibrant Turkish society as it is today and all of this in a context that is very London 2014.

What dish are you most excited about serving?

I’m quite intrigued to see how people take to the Ottoman pilaf dish we’re making. I adapted it from a recipe I found in an old Ottoman book of mine. Pilaf was famously cooked for banquets held at the various Sultan’s residences in Istanbul and beyond.

It’s the smaller dishes that raki ultimately comes into its own. I’m particularly excited about the marinated octopus with capers, parsley and red onion and the anchovies with chicory and radishes. For me these dishes don’t just represent Turkey but all the nations that have selected raki to be their national drink, the Greeks the Albanians, the Bulgarians, the Lebanese, and so forth.

How are you using raki’s aniseed flavour in your menu?

The dessert is an ice cream that’s been flavoured with Yeni Raki and rosewater. The aniseed flavour of the raki and its alcohol content makes for a rather wonderful mouthful. For me, it’s about entrusting the aniseed flavour of raki rather than accentuating it or referencing it – it’s strong enough on its own.

Click to see some more photos from Raki 20: Peckham Bazaar 

14/11/2014: Beagle

Beagle pulled out all the stops in their bespoke menu in the second dinner of our Raki 20 dinner series.  Their kitchen is headed up by James Ferguson, the former head chef of Rochelle’s Canteen, who’s team creates quality dishes with the same back-to-basics British ethos.

The series takes the spirit of slow dining to the capital’s top restaurants. Each serving up their take on a raki table, creating an evening of fantastic food pairings to while away an evening.

Making full use of their spit, they served the raki table a whole leg of Sweldale lamb, choosing the grass-fed rare-breed to bring out the flavour of Yeni Raki. Sous chef, Ben Coombs spoke to us about their thinking behind the menu and his favourite dish.

What has influenced the menu?

We tried to focus mainly around the main course for the flavour development. We haven’t tried to use aniseed anywhere in the menu but instead try to use flavours such as turnip and lamb that show off the flavour of the drink , the lamb does this particularly well.
At Beagle we often pair lamb with fennel, but tonight, we’ve purposely avoided this so you can taste the drink through the food. The turnip and potato dish will set off the sweetness of aniseed, as it influences your flavour buds and makes you think of sweet things.

What dish are you most excited about serving?

The lamb is amazing as it’s coming off a spit-roast and we don’t often do it in the restaurant. We roasted a leg for a customer recently and we thought serving it with Yeni Raki was a flavour pairing made in heaven.

We’ve roasted the lamb for an hour and a half. The spit is an amazing form of cookery and we’re really lucky to have it in the restaurant. Spit-roasting forces the liquid back into the meat, the juices to draw to the centre so what you end up with is minimum loss of juices and all the fat keeps basting the meat. It’s going to taste incredible.

20/11/2014: 100 Hoxton

For 100 Hoxton’s Raki 20 dinner, guests were taken on a culinary world tour with a table full of mezze-sized dishes inspired by Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Head chef, Francis Puyan’s ethos is in mixing these big flavours from across the world. “I don’t want to focus on one style of cooking or nation, such as Asian food, I’m not that kind of person – I want to do a little bit of everything. It makes it more fun.”

The menu is a true East-meets-West collision, with the two-man chef team, comprising of Francis and Thai-trained Aussie chef Tim Yates continue to draw their inspiration from all over. “I’ve been influenced by my time at Yotam Ottolenghi’s kitchen a lot. We also look to Thailand and Morocco for their use of spices and flavours.”

The table dined in the true spirit of slow, enjoying an evening of fine food and Yeni Raki over four hours. Fish plates ranged from seared mackerel with bitter lemon, thai bream in banana leaf and a “Surf and Turf” sharing plate of ribs, scallops and prawns with a wasabi pepper gravy. “All of the dishes are my favourites, to me they’re all tasty and wonderful – that’s why I cook them”

See more pictures from the evening here.

27/11/2014: Zilouf’s

This week our Raki 20 dinner series traveled to Islington’s Zilouf’s to get their take on the slow dining experience. Inspired by the traditions of the raki table, head chef, Tim Yates created a bespoke menu of dishes to savour, share and enjoy with the aniseed tones of Yeni Raki.

The firm favourites on the night were the Steak Tartare with wasabi and the fore-rib, a plate of dry aged fore-rib scallops and prawns gilled in a thai inspired dipping sauce. Tim also added Yeni Raki to a fennel, chili and lime salsa to accompany the gambas prawn mezze.

If you like the sound of an evening in slow dining at some of the capitals most innovative restaurants, listen up. Two seats at the next dinner are up for grabs. The dinner is on Monday, the 1st December at Dalston’s POND. Head chef, Frog Wong has been busy masterminding a Hawaiian-style menu to beautifully compliment the aniseed flavour of the drink.

08/12/2014: POND Dalston

Raki 20 took the spirit of slow to POND Dalston, a restaurant specialising in the Hawaiian cuisine, founder Byron Knight explained,  “Everything we do is based on the Hawaiian word Aloha – which means hello, goodbye, love for your brother, sister, partner and community – and love for your planet. As such, our menu will remain as local as possible, ever changing with the seasons, presenting the best of land, sea and soil that this country has to offer.”

At just four months old and with rave reviews already under their belt, we knew they would rustle up something a bit special for their raki table -and we certainly weren’t wrong. Before serving up a banquet of fish and dishes, head chef, James Freeman let us in on his concept behind the night’s sharing dishes.

How does tonight’s menu differ from a usual evening at POND Dalston?

We’ve developed tonight’s menu around what we’re doing here already, we had a number of dishes that were already playing on the anise flavours. We’re also adapting some dishes to really make the aniseed sing. One of which is the charred half-avocado, which we’re filling up with some surprises for the table tonight.

12/12/2014: Fino

The style of dining synonymous with mezze is no stranger to Fino Restaurant, the sixth host in our Raki 20 slow dining series. Although the contemporary Spanish restaurant serves their tapas as small sharing plates, the two cuisines share an underlying concept of unifying the table over good food and flavours.

The cuisines also share their simplicity of preparation, both using just a few key ingredients across an array of dishes -because where’s the fun in uniform or regiment? Featuring Mediterranean ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, cheese, vegetables and meat a series of dishes allow for an infinite possibility of combinations, where no two diners eat quite the same.

Both cuisines also focus on slowing down the dining experience with plates arrive throughout the night, created a relaxed environment. This style of serving is perfect for conversation, as people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them.

Fino’s raki table was laid out in such a way to ensure the guests experienced the best they had to offer, offering 13 plates of the finest Spanish and local produce available, chosen to compliment Yeni Raki’s aniseed rich flavour. Diners were schooled in art of the perfect pour. Adding just the right amount to water in to turn the clear spirit into cloudy lion’s milk.

The evening’s favourites included fish dishes of Salt Cod Brandada and a Tuna Tartare alongside some Spanish classics such as spinach tortilla and Manchego cheese.

09/02/2015 Tramshed

Beneath Damian Hirst’s gigantic formaldehyde sculpture of a real cow and a cock, February’s first Raki 20 table was laid. The art piece perfectly encapsulates Mark Hix’s concept for his Tramshed restaurant: chicken or steak to share.

Like all raki tables, sharing is fundamental and Tramshed’s mighty Marble Himalayan salt dry-aged and free-range chicken from Swainson House Farm in Lancashire came into their own as centre pieces of the evening’s table.

We chatted to one of our dinner guests, the food blogger behind AGirlHasToEat about her highlights of the evening. “Yeni Raki has a really mellow flavour that worked so well with all the dishes, but my favourite would have to be the chicken liver parfait -I couldn’t get enough of it!” Cassie was joined by fellow London foodies who all dined on a menu of barn-reared Indian rock chicken, Atlantic Prawn Cocktail and De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon with shaved fennel and pickled cucumber.  “I love the slow dining experience and so I jumped at the chance to enjoying an evening slowly drinking, eating and chatting around a table of friends.”

During life as a food blogger, she’s experienced what London’s vibrant food scene has to offer and what makes a dinner successful. “I think what makes a great meal has to be great food, but that in itself is not enough. You need wonderful company and a good ambiance.” It’s these key ingredients that make the best raki tables, “It’s that all round magic formula.”

17/02/2015: Bonnie Gull

In the true spirit of Yeni Rakı, our Rakı 20 dinner series served up an evening full of fish, propping up for a night at London’s favourite seafood restaurant, Bonnie Gull.

From the kitchen of their Exmouth Market restaurant, executive head chef, Luke Robinson let us in on their ethos; “We want to work with the freshest British fish, so we deal with suppliers directly from the closest coasts.” Portraits of these suppliers- fishermen who work the coasts from Portsmouth, Brighton, New Haven, Kent and Dorset through to Cornwall, hang on the walls of the restaurant, giving diners a unique insight into the people behind the delicious dishes served up.

Working with the catch, the restaurant changes their menu daily -it’s seasonality at its purest. “Shellfish is fantastic this time of year -muscles are beautiful and big, scallops are great and langoustines” The Raki table was served up plentiful plates of oysters, clams and scallops. “It’s a bit of a challenge for a chef to cook fish. I love the fact that it’s really fresh and you have to get it in that window of time when it’s amazing.”

For the raki table, Each plate was crafted to compliment the unique aniseed flavour of Yeni Raki, with the sea bass being a highlight; “It’s particularly good with aniseed -it just goes brilliantly with raki, fennel, dill, star anise -all across the flavour family”. Proving that despite it being February and far from the temperate climate of the Bosphorus, fish and raki remains a match well made.

18/02/2015: Hawksmoor

Known for their dictionary-thick steaks that are cooked over real charcoal, Hawksmoor didn’t disappoint our raki table with plentiful sharing plates. Guests enjoyed the signature steak alongside dishes of smoked salmon and soda bread, Chateaubriand and baked beetroot alongside the perfect serve of Yeni Raki.

For more images, check out the Yeni Raki Global Facebook page.

09/03/2015: Barge House

Along the capital’s tranquil Regents canal, we found the perfect antidote to London’s rush. Overlooking the still waters, the Barge House’s kitchen and bar had laid the table for their dinner in our Raki 20 slow dining series. Creating an “Opulent sharing feast for friends” of six courses, inspired by the ethos and rich aniseed flavour of Yeni Raki.

“We wanted to create a theatrical experience” explains Fred, the chef and mastermind behind the menu. Throughout the evening magnificent platters of food were presented to encourage the table to interact through serving each other.“We wanted to give the guests an experience that was much more about sharing, less ‘rah-rah’ and more honest”.  Alongside the traditional serve of Yeni Raki, the dinner was rounded off by magnificent cocktails, designed to compliment the food and cleanse the pallet between courses, created by expert mixologist, Helen Sabin -recipes to follow.

Bargehouse’s concept is grounded in Fred’s home-style of cooking, Fred explains. “I always cook what I cook at home, because I believe food is meant to be enjoyed amongst a group of people so that they can talk about it and share in its enjoyment. At the Bargehouse we want people to feel that they’re at home -my food is driven by the pleasure of cooking and the pleasure of people eating it.”

The night’s dinner was given extra dash of spectacle from the evening’s hostess and Bargehouse owner Debbie Does -who at one point flambéed a platter frogs legs to the delight of the table. With frog legs on the menu, it’s no surprise that Fred hails from France and the marriage of French style of cooking alongside Yeni Raki and Turkish influenced ingredients worked a treat. “I think the raki concept is great for people as it gives them time to actually sit and talk about the food and enjoy drinking around one big table -it’s what the French and the whole Mediterranean does for a living!”

See photos from the evening here.

13/03/2015 Honey & Co

Raki 20 is our slow dining dinner series that brings a taste of the slower pace of life to London’s bustling restaurant scene. A traditional raki table is a welcoming and homely affair, something which Middle Eastern restaurant, Honey and Co is creates effortlessly.

The tiny spot is ran by husband and wife Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packerseats and seats a little more than twenty people . The duo -both former Ottolenghi chefs, cook up sharing platters and feasts of mezze  right from the heart. Their raki table dishes featured subtle modern twists on the mezze classics, such as falafel, creamy hummus, Kalamata olives, tomato fatoush, accompanied by sharing platters of spiced lamb and aubergine Musakhan all alongside the classic serve of Yeni Raki.

Check out photos from the night on our Facebook page

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