Today we’re heading into Soho (what happiness) for some amazing Persian food. At Berenjak founder Kian Samyani evokes the style of the classic hole in the wall eateries that line the streets of Tehran. It’s named after the handfuls of brightly coloured rice eaten as a snack at Persian funfairs. Now that’s enough exotic excitement to make me want to head right there.
Nestling on a side street in Soho, Berenjak is a little place with the all-important grill right by the door as you walk in. The aromas get the juices flowing immediately.
I was lead right into the back corner of this charming eatery into the light-filled area with exposed brick, plant-lined walls, reclaimed marble and bronze tables and brightly coloured furnishings. I was very quickly settled and perusing the delights on offer.
What’s on the menu
There’s a mix of small mazeh-style sharing plates and charcoal grilled kebabs. Two things I really love! Hooray.
We started with this amazing black truffle olivier from the mazeh section. It’s a corn-fed chicken mayo salad mixed with potato, egg, salted cucumber and black truffle. Kind of like a Persian version of one of my all-time favourites – Russian salad. Delectable.
The mazeh dishes are served with some of the best bread ever. The taftoon is a seeded sourdough flatbread baked in the clay oven. It’s light, crisp and flavoursome, and the most perfect accompaniment to the dip-style dishes.
The kashk e bademjoon is a rich and luscious dip made from coal cooked aubergine, whey, walnuts, dried mint and onions. It’s hard to make aubergine look exciting but believe me it does taste incredible.
And on to mains
There’s such a tempting selection of kebabs – and I do love a kebab. Today we went for a lamb and chicken combo. The koobideh kabab is minced lamb shoulder with onions and black pepper. So beautifully moist and tender with incredible depth of lamb flavours.
The jujeh kabab was made from boneless chicken breast marinated in saffron, lemon, yogurt and tomato. Gonna try that marinade myself – the meat was tender and tasty. Berenjak’s grill chef really knows his stuff – I can’t say I’ve ever eaten dishes that were so perfectly grilled.
We also couldn’t resist a couple of exotic accompaniments. The fabulous chilli relish (described as pickled chillis on the menu) was made of chopped chilli, salt, vinegar, mint and angelica. Can’t remember seeing angelica on a menu before and I’ll certainly look for it again. It added an amazing bittersweet flavour to the spicy relish which I’d love to keep in my kitchen cupboard. I could eat it every day.
And then there was the freshest of salads. The Shirazi is made from chopped cucumber, tomato and onion mixed with mint. Cleansing and crunchy, such a great accompaniment to the other dishes. I love the way all the dishes go together so wonderfully, like a choir perfectly harmonising.
Today’s price point
All these dishes came to a total of £44.25. They made for a generous lunch for two.
Wine starts from £30 per bottle. There’s also a lovely selection of non-alcoholic Persian fruit cordials starting from £4.50.
Berenjak is at 27 Romilly Street, Soho.