Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Simurgh: where my Persian chicken fell off the bone

Last week I had dinner at Simurgh, "the first Iranian restaurant in the heart of London". It's a stone's throw away from work but I never thought of entertaining guests here for a slight fear of the unknown; my knowledge of Persian food is limited to the ubiquitous kebabs/mezzes so I wouldn't have anything exciting to say about the lot. Also, there's been mixed reviews about the place so I stuck to nearby established restaurants. A bit too safe, I have to admit.

My date and I decided to try something new so I figured it's time to face the unknown.


The restaurant is a knockout inside. It's a teeny space but it was quite pretty: exposed bricks adorned with tapestry and murals, wood carvings, lamps and carved tables that transport you to ancient Iran.


It was relatively busy when we arrived - a (rather rowdy) tour group occupied the full middle row of tables and a few surrounding tables have started to fill up with yuppies looking for post-work grub.


We were served pretty quickly despite the commotion. All starters go for £4.95. I chose the chicken liver which was a bit risky because my date and I are quite particular with how we like liver cooked. Good choice though! The liver was perfectly cooked with a simple concoction of tomato, onion, garlic and spices. I would have eaten a whole bowl of it for mains.


Everything came with a side salad drizzled in house dressing, ground nuts and sesame seeds. Nothing fancy, and I actually thought everything was shop-bought.


My date went for the salmon rashti (£13.95). The saffron and lemon marinated fillet is char-grilled and drizzled with a yogurt-basil sauce. I wasn't too keen on the sauce as it tasted like a creamy pesto which I thought was peculiar in a Persian restaurant. This dish was just okay.


I thought of getting a cheeky chargrilled platter (the one that had chicken, lamb, and seafood skewers) but decided on getting something I wouldn't usually order: chicken and apricot stew (£11.95)


It came with three types of rice: plain, dill and cinnamon rice. I'm not a fan of dill so that was my least favourite. The cinnamon rice was sweet and savoury, giving me a confused feeling as my head said it wasn't quite right while my palate seemed to disagree. Curious. It's definitely an acquired taste.


My chicken stew was delicious. I seriously can't remember the last time I've had fall-of-the-bone chicken that soft and in a restaurant. The whole chicken leg just swam away with my fork strokes and had a buttery, melt-in-your mouth tenderness that was quite mind-blowing. The dish itself was interesting. It was a sweet- savoury dish, one I'd seriously snub in most occasions but I actually liked it. A lot.


I can't help but stare at this woven ceiling decor. It's gorgeous.


Even the mosaic at the bar looked awesome.


Reviews of the restaurant are either super great or super bad. In my case, the first visit wasn't exactly outstanding but it wasn't bad at all. The ambience is pretty neat and the service was quite friendly. I wouldn't mind revisiting again to try more of the stew. And that delicious chicken liver dish.

Simurgh
17 Garrick St, London WC2E 9BL | +44(0)20 7240 7811
Ave spend pp: £20
Simurgh on UrbanspoonSquare Meal


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