Authentic Iranian on Facounberg Road

Comfortable and classy, Sultanee dishes up some interesting cooking

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Eating out in Chiswick


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Sultanee, which claims to be Chiswick’s only authentic Iranian restaurant, is a gem. Situated in Fauconberg Road, it’s a local eaterie with some very sophisticated cooking in a very pleasant setting.

Iranian food is a bit like Greek with mezzes and kebabs but there are distinct differences. As I didn’t know anything about it I checked Wikipedia before I went and learnt that the main Iranian cuisines are combinations of rice with meat, chicken or fish with plenty of garlic and onions all spiced with saffron, dried limes, cinnamon and parsley. Apparently it’s a style of cooking with its roots in antiquity and which has been influential in the neighbouring countries. The cuisines of Afghanistan, the south-Central Asian states, North India and Pakistan have all been heavily influenced by Iranian cooking.

Anyway back to Sultanee. The menu is not huge but there is plenty of choice. There are eight starters which include the familiar hummus and moost-o-khyar which is similar to the Greek tzatziki. We settled for maast-o-moosir, strained yogurt with Persian garlic and mirza-ghasemi, barbecued aubergine with eggs and garlic.

The yogurt with garlic was a revelation, especially for somebody whose taste in yogurt never goes beyond the Sainsbury’s low fat variety. It was thick, creamy and redolent of fresh garlic, a simple dish that relies on the quality of the ingredients to carry it off.

The aubergine dish was like nothing we’d ever eaten before. It sounds like something you’d find in a regular Greek restaurant but it wasn’t. The aubergine, hard boiled egg and garlic had been blended so the flavours all came together to create something different and rather delicious, It was accompanied by fresh baked Persian flat bread that tasted absolutely wonderful.

True, our starters were heavy on the garlic – no vampire was going to bother us in the underpass on the way home – but there are other dishes with no garlic so if garlic’s not to your taste you’ll still find something to eat.

In between courses, when you’ve got time to take in your surroundings, you’ll notice that the walls are hung with fabulous, hand-woven rugs. You may even recognise one of them - the young lady water carrier who graces the Sultanee ads (including the one on this site) features in one of the rugs. It’s worth a visit to see her in all her glory as the rug is truly lovely.

The main courses are overwhelmingly meaty with all sorts of kebabs of chicken and lamb, and stews. These include gormeh sabzee – spring lamb cooked in finely chopped and fried fresh herbs with kidney beans and dried lime; bademjan – a sauce with spring lamb, aubergine, tomatoes and dried limes; chenjeh– a skewer of marinated loin of spring lamb; and fesenjan - an exotic sweet and sour sauce with meat balls, pomegranate juice and crushed walnuts. For vegetarians gormeh sabzee and bademjan can be served without meat. There are two fish dishes – fish of the day and prawns both pan fried and garnished with lemon juice

We chose vegetarian Gormeh sabzi and skewers of marinated loin of spring lamb and boneless chicken. Gormeh sabzi is described as a green vegetable sauce containing fresh herbs, dried limes and red kidney beans and that’s exactly what it is but it tastes more interesting than it might sound. It ticked all the boxes that define Iranian food with dried limes and herbs.
The herbs are Iranian leeks, spinach and parsley. Mixed with the dried lime it had a deep, dark savory flavour that tasted different from anything I’d eaten before and I really enjoyed it. It also won the approval of my carnivorous companion who insisted on having a taste.

The delicately spiced meat was declared delicious. Both courses were served with spiced rice and the portions were generous.

The bill came to a very reasonable £42 which included a bottle of Pino Grigio chosen from a good, well-priced wine list.

Sultanee is value for money, it’s comfortable and classy with some interesting cooking. Ideal for residents of Grove Park who don’t want to go all the way to the High Road for a night out, it’s also interesting enough to lure people who live north of the A4 and make them feel their journey was worthwhile.


Penny Flood

April 26, 2007