Putney's Esfahan Gives You A Totally Different Dining Experience
Dining with two middle eastern aficionados I discovered Putney's hidden Persian gem
I was unsure of what to expect but having discovered a relative newcomer to Putney's cuisine on the Upper Richmond Road - (yes the shops and restaurants are still open for business despite the gas works!) we went for supper on Friday night with friends who would hopefully have some idea.
The welcome was extremely warm and we were shown to our table in the front section of the restaurant. There are tables on a decked section on the pavement but August weather has not been too kind to us! The front section has a bar and Persian/Iranian TV quietly on in the background (the weather forecast was a lot more attractive from what I saw) and in the background Persian music was not intrusive and to my untuned ear very similar to some Indian music (not Bollywood!)apparently this is the due to the Mogul influence on their culture and cuisine. The restaurant is decorated with with tiled floors, exposed brick walls, fresh flower arrangements, Persian carpets and colourful artworks.
The waitress quickly took our drinks order apologising for the lack of choice in white wines - the Pinot Grigio that was available was luckily very cold and agreeable! Our starters arrived - a large selection of dips (£2.95 - £3.95) and nan breads (£1.95). These came on a" lazy susan" - allowing speedy sharing of Mirza Gashemi (warm smoked aubergine with walnuts mint & garlic) Dolme (stuffed vine leaves) Masto Moosir (yoghurt with wild garlic) - it should be mentioned that Persian cuisine has lots of similarity to Turkish cuisine in its Kebabs and other dishes as Turkey was part of the ancient great Persian empire. If you are uncertain which to choose we recommend ordering the large mix starter of five dishes.
Our waitress explained that the kebabs are all delicious but that if you wanted a more authentic experience you should opt for the stews on the menu, which we duly did - I can make a mean kebab on the BBQ so i would rather try something completely different. I discovered later that such Khoresh (stews) are particularly traditional to the area around Iranian city of Esfahan which is located about 340 km south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city. There are three stew to chose from (priced at £8.50 and £9.90) - be warned the portions are generous and they come with white and saffron rice. The Chelo Khoresh Bamie (lamb with tomatoes, okra, lamb & green pepper) was a mild blend of spices - not fiery, the Chelo Khoresh Ghorme Sabzi (lamb with kidney beans, herbs, spinach and dried lemon) was more piquant and the Chelo Khoresh Ghaime (lamb in a tomato sauce) was very citrine in flavour. In addition there are "specials" on only available on Saturday & Sundays.
We had no room for desserts although there are some on the menu -they offer Persian tea, mint tea, coffee and Turkish coffee which was very good- tbringing back memories of holidaying on a gulet.
The final bill for four including wine and bottled water (be warned they only come in small bottles) came to £115 excluding service. The evening flew by and the food was very agreeable - on of the party was so impressed he said "I will come back for the nan alone" - and you can't say better than that!
August 23, 2010