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.