I keep finding that so much of life is underrated. I’ll give you some examples. An early night with a pile of reading material is definitely underrated by most. A strong cup of fresh coffee is also completely underrated as it can quite magically turn my whole day around. Receiving an email/letter from someone I wasn’t expecting to hear from. Even a juicy piece of gossip. A perfectly ripe (but not over ripe) banana. Luminous green olives. And to celebrate all that is underrated in this already overhyped world, I’ve decided to categorise these unrelated nuggets of goodness and I’m naming this new category my Underrated Underworld. And in this newly created category, I’d like to add Persian food. Just like that. Because, out of nowhere, the Iranian culinary delights have become my new, favourite cuisine in my Underrated Underworld.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been to two such Persian restaurants. The first is in Maida Vale and it’s called Kateh. It had been described to me by a foodie-friend-posing-as-banker as: “food good, service patchy”. We ate there on a Saturday night and it was packed to the rafters. The service is even a little slower than patchy but the food, I thought, was even better than good. It was fantastic: interesting, fresh, unusual, tasty and utterly delicious.
And so, when I was invited to review Hana (the more recently opened Persian in North West London), I leapt at the chance. Accompanied by my Mill Hill girls, we dined like Iranian princesses on West End Lane. The array of starters served to us included fresh, herby salads and a plate of mirza ghasemi which is a warm starter of crushed grilled aubergines with tomatoes and garlic. Persian meatballs and char gilled tiger prawns also graced our over-ordered table. Then we went on to major in grilled meat and a classic slow-cooked chicken stew in thick walnut and pomegranate sauce.
Hana is a sweet plain-looking little neighbourhood restaurant (with very reasonable prices) which looks like you might be served very mediocre food. But that’s just to deceive you. Instead, the team there are creating some, albeit classic, stunning dishes of fresh Persian food which just goes to prove my point. You see – in my Underrated Underworld – there is so much more to this middle eastern cuisine than healthy dips and grilled meats.
Kateh 5 Warwick Place?W9 020 72893393
Hana 351 West End Lane NW6 020 77941200