Restaurants & Bars 7

Good Persian & Ethiopian in London

Doc from New Orleans | Nov 16, 200402:42 PM

Was in London last week, and realized I'd last been there exactly ten years ago. On that trip I had one of the best meals of my life at a Persian restaurant in Kensington High Street. I'd failed to note the name of the place, but I managed to find it (Apadana, 351 High St. Kensington) and recreate the meal. I had dough (a fermented buttermilk drink -- I like it, but it's definitely not for everyone), mast-o-mousir (homemade yogurt with wild garlic), naan (huge flatbread baked in a wood oven, much better to my taste than the usual Indian version), and the star of the meal, zereshk polo. This was a heap of perfectly steamed white and yellow basmati rice (the yellow flavored with saffron) topped with a beautifully roasted, juicy, crisp-skinned chicken thigh and a generous scattering of little red sour-sweet berries (the zereshk, which with the help of the waiter and the shopkeeper next door I managed to determine are called barberries in English). I don't think I've ever had a more perfect dish; every component was flawless. In fact, the entire meal was flawless. I've never had Persian food anywhere else, so I don't know if it is always so good or if Apadana is an exceptional restaurant. On both my visits, all the other diners appeared to be Iranian, but this tacky American was treated with unfailing courtesy and kindness.

Also went to South London (Vauxhall, I think) in search of Ethiopian food upon arrival: found Axum at 266 Wandsworth Road. Good kitfo and excellent shiro, which I'd never had before and which a description won't begin to do justice: it's a thick, savory barley porridge with onions and chile peppers. Enjoyed talking with the friendly proprietress.

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