Restaurant Review: Gilak Restaurant, N19

Jerry Logo travels east to sample Persian cuisine at a restaurant in cosmopolitan Archway

Having notched up one year of business, it appears that Gilak restaurant has settled in well within the cosmopolitan Archway neighbourhood.

Nestled in Holloway Road, at the base of Archway Road, this eatery was just short of a full house on a dull rainy Friday evening, making for a compellingly cosy atmosphere.

My partner and I, both being new to Persian cuisine, were encouraged by our well presented and, as we later found out, quite tangy mains.

Initially we went for similar starter dishes with the Mirza Ghasemi - smoked aubergines, onion, garlic, walnuts, whey and mint - and the Mast-o-Khiar, a yogurt based mix of chopped cucumbers, garlic and mint, both dishes served with warm flat bread.

We were unanimous in favouring the aubergine, and were so enticed by its taste that we almost upset the normal run of play by immediately ordering it again, had our mains not been whisked to our tables in the nick of time.

Owners Majid and Nima tell us that their restaurant’s particular brand of North Iranian food is accepted back home as the most authentic cuisine in the land.

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Their staple of walnut, garlic, sour pomegranate and herbs and their fruity influences stem from Majid’s home town of Gilan, which lies neck to neck with the Caspian Sea.

With this in mind we decided that one of us had to order the Mahi Polow - marinated fried sea bass served with fresh lime and rice.

The dish was remarkably bountiful and appetisingly presented, however the fish could have been fried a tad longer and the lime may be too strong for some palates but would be absolute heaven to citrus fans. The rice was well flavoured fresh and very tasty.

A reasonably priced joint, Gilak restaurant staff are attentive hosts adding to a pleasantly vibrant atmosphere.

Similarly vibrant taste-wise was my partner’s accompanying main Khoresht Gheimeh - lamb stew with aromatic mixed herbs, red kidney beans and dried lime served with rice.

The lamb on its own was juicy, tender and amazingly delicious, doing well to balance the lime in the stew, which on its own belted the taste buds with its citrusy flavour. The rice was mixed with herbs and tasted really good.

As we waited for dessert and the venue continued to flourish with punters through the evening, I made up my mind that I would revisit and taste some of the other dishes on its plentiful menu, and perhaps further succumb to the acquired tastes of Persian food.

Our evening was concluded with traditional Persian ice-cream flavoured with saffron and pistachio, which was well presented and rich in saffron. An acquired taste, in comparison to our second dish of Phaloodeh, a Persian sorbet threaded with rice noodles and flavoured with lime juice, which was original in style and gorgeous in taste rounding off an educative and unique culinary experience.