Sunday, 8 May 2011

Gilak, Archway

Foodie hot spot (pah!) Archway is just down the road from my digs so it warms my heart to see any venue based there reaping praise from the big guns for the quality and good value of their offerings. Late last year Time Out gave Gilak, a small Northern Iranian restaurant, the nod by way of inclusion in their Best Cheap Eats in North London and they've more recently followed up with a further glowing review

Many have raved about the starter dips, in particular the aubergine based ones so for our first course we opted for the boorani-e-aubergine (smoked and mixed with garlic and yogurt) and boorani-e-esfenaj (yogurt with spinach and garlic) with some flatbreads for scooping.

The aubergine was as good as expected though we didn't detect much spinach in the 2nd dip. The flatbreads were great, though we were less sure about the sir torshi, pickled garlic (pictured top of post). They're very bitter and something of an acquired taste.

Moving on to mains the menu is broken down into Persian stews and Persian grills. I opted for khoresht anarbij. The picture really doesn't do this dish justice, it was fantastic. A stew of lamb meatballs in a walnut, onion and sour pomegranate sauce, I've never tasted anything like it before and absolutely loved it. Very earthy and grainy, I've thought about this dish a lot since the meal and would struggle to return and order anything else. It was served alongside an enormous plateful of rice, plain and saffron, beautifully golden grains scattered atop the fluffy white pile.

I was pleased when my companion ordered chellow kabab momtaz from the grill section giving me a chance to sample the marinated chicken and minced lamb skewers. This dish was really pretty, the vibrant yellow marinade, from the saffron, giving the chicken that golden hue. Again the flavours here were quite unfamiliar to me and this was a really unusual dining experience, in a good way. The meat was all so succulent and the portion size very generous, the place was full with a varied and eclectic bunch of diners, families with children, couples, groups of friends, I see why Gilak's earned the reputation as a bit of a local gem.

I couldn't resist the bastani, Persian ice cream with saffron and pistachios. Once again my taste buds were completely unprepared for the flavours, the saffron is very strong, almost perfumed but quite savoury. The pistachios adding crunch to the creaminess, the dish was perfect with some Persian tea sweetened with plenty of sugar.

For all this we paid less than £40 and we left happy and very full. I would very much recommend visiting, even if it's slightly further than you would normally trek, it's really close to Archway tube station.

663 Holloway Rd,
N19 5SE


Gilak on Urbanspoon


thelittleloaf said...

Sounds like great find. Archway's a pretty long way from me but if I'm ever in the area I'll definitely be popping in!

The London Foodie said...

What an amazing find! Thanks for that, and it so close to me too. Definitely on my hit list now. Love Persian food, love aubergine.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Kavey said...

Oh, Archway is so easy for me, must try this one soon!

Boo said...

Little Loaf - worth the trek for sure!

Luiz - My first Persian meal and I was not disappointed. Look forward to reading your thoughts on it

Kavey - at last a local gem for us north Londoners to shout about!

Campari & Soda 楊靜安 said...

I live on Archway! Will definitely be trying this place-do they do takeaway by any chance?

hampers said...

That Persian Ice Cream looks rather yummy. I wonder if it comes in loads of flavors? Looks really tasty.

Hanna @ Swedish Meatball said...

I'm with you on the sir torshi - definitely an acquired taste! Just how special was the saffron ice cream?! Brings back fond memories... :)

Boo said...

Campari&soda - really? You must go! Not sure on the takeout, sorry.

Hampers - this seemed to be the only one on the menu, it was really unusual, you have to try it.

Hanna - so special, thanks for your post tipping me off!

Nancy - Hungry in Camden said...

Oh god, I'm wild about Middle Eastern food and I haven't heard about this one. Will have to check it out.