Friday 26 March 2010

Patogh, Crawford Place - review

The Edgware Road area is rapidly becoming my favourite part of London. Following on from my recent visit to Abu Zaad, I found myself back in the area on Wednesday meeting my dad. We needed a quick bite and although, once again, it was "no chance" of a table at Mandalay, we managed to get ourselves into Patogh, tucked away in Crawford Place.

There are only four tables. It was full when I did my recce, and although I was told that I'd be able to get a table between 9 and half past, I thought it prudent to nip in at 9:05 and tell then that we were still finishing our pints next door. Prudent it was: when we arrived ten minutes later, we were in the nick of time, as we swept past a group who were about to be given our table. They departed hissing and snarling.

Patogh serves simple Iranian cuisine. The menu is limited, and I was slightly taken aback by the choice of main courses - basically a choice of lamb or chicken cooked in "special sauce". This sounded deeply unpromising. The choice of starters isn't enormous either - it's mostly salads.

We plumped for a mixed starter option, consisting of hummus, yoghurt and a sort of cucumber-and-tomato salad, and another salad option which was mostly feta and walnuts. It's definitely out-of-doors, summer food - refreshing stuff. They seemed to have a run on mint: I ate more of the stuff in one sitting than I normally consume in a year. Simple, satisfying fare.

The real star of the show was the bread - order a "large bread" and you'll be presented with a behemoth of a flatbread that takes over half the table. Between three of us we made a manful effort but barely got through half of it, and another one appeared with each of our main courses. The bread itself was wonderfully flavoursome and textured, with a heavy preponderance of sesame seeds; Perfect for mopping up yoghurt and throwing some mint leaves onto.

The main courses were simple grilled meat, with salad and more mint leaves, with more of that bread. Again, it was simple, with just the right mix of tenderness, smokiness and flavour. As grilled meat goes, it was up there with somewhere like Tayyabs.

As for the service and atmosphere, it wasn't much to speak of. The cramped space stifles the ambience somewhat, and compared to Abu Zaad and other larger places around the corner on the Edgware Road, it's not nearly as much fun. The staff were friendly enough - no complaints.

It's not a place to go for elaborate Iranian cuisine, but as a place to get fresh, rough street food it's another great arrow to have in the quiver. A place to check out if you're looking for a west London meal for less than £20 a head - but worth storing their number and calling ahead if you want a table. Recommended.

Other reviews from the Standard here and Time Out here.

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