Taking Orders: Berenjak
by Abigail Spooner
Just when you thought London couldn’t fit in another square inch of restaurant space and make it a success, Berenjak brings home-style Iranian cooking to the capital to prove us all wrong.
Where is it?
On Romilly Street, in the heart of Soho’s bustling food and drink scene.
What’s all the fuss about?
Taking its inspiration from the streets of Tehran with a touch of modern refinement, the sharing-style food at Berenjak is comforting and full of flavour. It’s a kebab house, but not as you know it…
What’s the place like?
Exposed brickwork, crumbling walls and mosaic tiles give a shabby-chic feel to this buzzy restaurant, with a busy open kitchen at the front and a cosier room sprawling with plants tucked away at the back. We secured seats at the counter top with an enviable view of the chefs.
What did we eat and drink?
We got a taste of just about everything on the concise, well-thought-out menu, including a refreshing sharbat cocktail. Letting the chefs lead the way on our culinary journey, we dipped in and out of a selection of mazeh (sharing plates) to start. Seeded sourdough flatbread, puffed up and freshly baked in the tandoor oven, was a delight dunked into silky-smooth black chickpea hummus (an absolute must-order). We also polished off Kashk e bademjoon, a smoky aubergine dip with whey, walnuts, and crispy onions, and Panir sabzi, a traditional platter of feta, fresh herbs, nuts and radishes.
Next up, we tried Khoresht ghaimeh bademjoon, a fragrant aubergine and yellow split pea stew, with the addition of meltingly tender, fall-apart beef shortrib for extra meaty measure. A side of wonderfully fluffy saffron rice, laced with goats butter, and torshi, a little pot of pickled veg, paired particularly well with the richly flavoured stew. Two juicy, charcoal grilled kebabs arrived hot from the mangal grill; chicken marinated in a saffron and lemon yoghurt, and an Iranian classic made with minced goat shoulder and onion. Both were expertly spiced and served alongside a fresh chilli pickle – not for the faint hearted – as we learned the hard way.
Despite feeling fit to burst I’m a firm believer that there’s always room for dessert, and a baklava ice cream sandwich was the perfect sweet-toothed end to a first-class meal.
It’s walk-ins only, so be sure to go before the queues are snaking around Soho. But whenever you visit, you’ll be rewarded with slick service and a feast for the senses. I’ll certainly be back.
That heavenly hummus.