SquareMeal Review of
Uzbekistan has yet to make its culinary presence felt in London, but Samarkand is planning to change that. This arrestingly stylish new basement restaurant hopes to evoke the Silk Road: the trade routes that ran from Europe to the East until the Middle Ages. Much thought has gone into the design, right down to gold-plated lion door knockers in the loos, though the congenial atmosphere isn’t helped by a cheesy, clubbing soundtrack. The menu lists various Middle Eastern-style shashlik grills, hearty eastern European soup, dumplings and even the odd noodle dish. We began with beef and lamb pastry parcels: herby and well-spiced, if quite stodgy. Next, a starter of delicately presented smoked eel had a dense, meaty flavour that contrasted well with accompanying baby beets and soft-boiled quails’ eggs. However, things became rather shaky for main course. Truffle potatoes were wonderfully rich, but pan-fried marinated baby chicken was overpowered by lemon. Staff were friendly throughout, happy to offer recommendations from the menu and the impressive drinks list. Alongside a few French wines, the separate mezzanine bar stocks over 40 vodkas. But overall, prices are high, and although the setting and atmosphere match this ambition, the food needs to follow suit.