Berenjak

Silver Award
1 Review
Middle Eastern

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SquareMeal Review of Berenjak

Silver Award

Inspired by the kebab joints of Tehran and spearheaded by former Gymkhana chef Kian Samyani, this no-bookings venture from the team behind Bao and Hoppers is a tiny corridor-like space, with stools at a counter overlooking the open kitchen, and tables in leatherette booths along a wall decorated with artfully distressed plaster. There’s also an atmospherically snug little dining area at the back with light and heat coming from a flaming tandoor and the coals of a mangal barbecue.

The idea is for two people to share half a dozen small plates, prettily served on silver saucers, before a couple of kebabs each. A dish of aubergine combined with onions cooked for so long they were almost caramelised was the real flavour revelation, scooped up with excellent bread from the clay tandoor; elsewhere grilled calf’s liver with onion salad added punch and a feta salad creamy freshness.

To follow, a kebab made with minced goat shoulder was terrifically succulent and beautifully seasoned, though the speciality destined for must-order status is the kabab torki – a dish that reinvents the post-pub guilty pleasure of ‘kebab and chips’ as a mixed meat shawarma atop a bed of fries drizzled with homemade chilli and garlic sauce. Order a side of authentically hot pickled chillies to cut through the richness.

Without drinks, you could eat very well at Berenjak for £30 a head, though that would be to miss out on the charms of the house-special ‘sharbats’ (fruit cordials), which can be spiked with vodka, gin and Tequila if you so desire. Wines (four in total) will bump up the bill, but bottled beer is closer to the cheap and very cheerful spirit of the place. 

Good to know about Berenjak

Cuisines
Middle Eastern
Ambience
Cool, Cosy, Fun, Lively
Special Features
Counter dining
People
Dates

Location for Berenjak

27 Romilly Street, London, London, W1D 5AL

Website


Reviews of Berenjak

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1 Review 
Food/Drink
Service
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Value

Mr. Alex G

Pretty perfect Persian
10 June 2019  

The word Persian always conjures up for me images of a distant and romantic empire, both exotic and foreign. Some 20 years ago, these latter two adjectives might have been applied to London’s Soho district, but in a less than laudatory context. Somehow though, it seems appropriate that Berenjak – a newish Persian restaurant - locates itself Soho. Dig a little deeper though and Berenjak’s backers are the JKS Group, who have achieved notable success across the London culinary scene with the likes of Gymkhana, Bao, Hoppers and Xu. In other words, there is a shrewdness behind the whole Berenjak concept, from the siting of the venue through to the vibe and the food. Diners are told to expect a combination of ‘home-style’ cooking combined with a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ kebab experience; something for everyone, especially in Soho. While the mains at Berenjak are indeed centered around the grilling of meat, what you get here is about as far removed from a drunken post-pub snack as possible. Consider the interior. Sure, there is the obligatory open kitchen (replete with grills) and counter-top dining, but what is far more memorable are the distressed walls, Persian rugs and black & white photos of modern-day Iran covering the walls. Onto the food, and diners are encouraged to share a range of starters followed by a main each. The quality of the bread is one gauge I often use to judge restaurants (irrespective of style of cuisine) and Berenjak came up trumps here, with both a taftoon (sourdough) and sangak (flatbread) to accompany our chosen dips. The smell and the seed-enhanced texture were both distinctly memorable. A hummus dish could not have been more different to many mainstream offerings available elsewhere. Black chick peas and sumac not only changed the colour, but also improved the depth of the dish, lending a real earthiness to it. A whey-topped aubergine dish was also superb, with the slow-cooking of this vegetable lending an almost caramel-like impression to the dish. Both our lamb shoulder and chilli-infused chicken grilled options impressed too, particularly in terms of the tenderness of the meat. Formal the venue is not and so do not expect to linger here for long. But this is not the point: enjoy the vibe, try something new and don’t end up overpaying. Our meal came in at ~£40/head, with beers and service included.       

Food & Drink
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