|Feasting With Friends At Faanoos|
Emma Brophy learns to eat like an Iranian
Middle Eastern restaurants appear to be rivaling mobile phone shops at the moment with new ones opening in Chiswick on a seemingly regular basis.
My friend George, as well connected in Chiswick as he is respected, is an enthusiast of the Upper Richmond Road branch of Faanoos, one of the High Road's most recent openings. He had promised to take me to lunch at the restaurant as soon as it opened here and, true to his word, did just that.
Conveniently situated a stones throw from his office and directly across the road from the stiff competition of Rice, George, his wife Siobhan and I were greeted like family when we arrived for lunch.
I felt like I was stepping into a nativity scene. Clay walls covered in matted straw and adorned with, what I thought, looked a little like biblical scenes. I was corrected; they are prints of pre-revolutionary Iran. A traditional clay bread oven made as wonderful a focal point as the aroma it was emitting.
When Iranian born George offered to order for three of us, I was delighted.
We shared starters of Paneer-Sabzi, Kashk e Badejan and Mirza Ghasemi. The latter two, both with aubergine as their main ingredient, were good however, it was the delightfully novel but oh so simple taste combination of fresh tarragon and feta cheese that constituted the Paneer-Sabzi I was really taken with, a deliciously different combination I've since copied myself in salads.
The mains were every bit as good. We shared a mixed grill for three – marinated chicken, minced lamb and lamb fillet kebabs – piles of saffron rice and, again something entirely new for me, Khoreshte Ghormeh Sabzi.
The grill was just as it should be, meat succulent, well marinated and expertly grilled although we all agreed it could have done with something to keep it warm long enough for us to finish it. For me the tender chunks of chicken were the leaders of the pack on this particular plate but the real star overall was the Khoreshte Ghormeh Sabzi. Cubes of lamb fillet cooked in a vivid green sea of fresh herbs with sun-dried lime and, rather bizarrely but worked well, red kidney beans.
To drink we shared one too many bottles of Pino Grigio but hey it was nearly Christmas and we were all on great form.
On reflection I think the thing I really enjoyed about Faanoos was that, with the choices made by George and guidance on how best to combine the various elements from Siobhan, I felt I had experienced a real taste of authentic Persian cuisine eating dishes I don't believe I would have chosen myself.
Clearly not everyone can take George and Siobhan to Faanoos with them, so I would recommend asking the staff for suggestions when ordering particularly if you’re in the mood to be adventurous.
Prices are reasonable with starters from £1.95 and mains from £4.95. The freshly baked Persian bread with sesame seeds at £1.00 a basket is a must have.
December 28, 2009