Test Drives

sherbetA souped up sharbat - our spiked blackcurrant sharbat here came with tequila and cherry

So what do we need to know about Berenjak?

Probably the most crucial piece of information we can give us is that it's the latest opening from restaurant wunderkinder the JKS Restaurants - who brought us Gymkhana, Lyle's, Bao, Hoppers and more. This is their Iranian hole in the wall kabab-style spot in Soho.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it next door to Kettner's Townhouse on Romilly Street, so the nearest tube is probably Leicester Square.

Can you book?

Nope - it's a walk-ins only restaurant. Yes it's going to get busy, but right now they're talking about a 30-40 minute wait, so it's an easy drink in Soho first while you wait (they'll call you when your space is ready).

Where should we meet friends for a drink?

Nearby decent spots include the bar at Kettner's, or you could head to Bar Termini for a Negroni or The French House for a beer.

And where should we sit?

Given how busy this place is about to get, it'll really be wherever you get a chance, but if you do have the option there's counter dining by the open kitchen at the front, tables for larger groups in the front room of the restaurant and a lovely room at the back with a large skylight for tables of two.

So - Iranian kababs. What does that actually mean is on the menu?

If you look into the open kitchen as you enter the place, the main tools on show - tanoor, mangal barbecue, and vertical rotisserie - will give you an indication of what to expect.

The menu kicks off with a selection of mazeh which you'll want to pair with one of two breads - taftoon (clay tanoor baked sourdough seeded flatbread) or sangak (wholewheat flatbread baked on pebbles). Then there's a selection of kababs and stews followed by one dessert.

Here's what we had on our visit:

hummusThe most 'grammed dish we've seen so far from the place - black chickpea hummus topped with walnuts and sumac and sitting in a pool of olive oil (£4.50) - a 100% must-have.

startersTwo of the mazah - on the left coal cooked aubergine with whey, walnut and onions (but without the mint oil for us) - £5.50) and the omelette Irani - broken caclebean eggs with tomato, onion and garlic (£5). SO good.

kebabOur chenjeh kabab (£12.50) - lamb rump chunks marinated in chilli, tarragon and yoghurt. Frankly some of the best-cooked lamb we've had in a while - phenomenally good meat.

stewThe guinea fowl stew with saffron, onion, potatoes and barbarries (£10). You'll want to double carb up with this - so make sure you order the fragrant house rice made with goats butter and tadig (£3) too. 

baklavaThere's only one dessert and it's pretty wee, so you may not wish to share it. But what it lacks in size it sure makes up for in sweetness - the baklava ice-cream sandwich (£3.50).

What's on the menu for vegetarians?

All bar one of the mazeh would work for vegetarians, and many of them for vegans too. There's one veggie main which is khoresht ghaimeh bademjoon (£8) - an aubergine stew with split yellow peas and crispy potatoes.

What about the drinks list?

There's a tiny beer and drink selection - nothing in the wines runs to more than £6.50 a glass - but really what you're after here are the sharbats.

These fruit cordials are either served as they come - with sparkling water and herbs for £4.50 or you can spike them with a particular spirit which brings them to £7. Our blackcurrant sekanjabin was given a bit of tequila and cherry to spike it, but it was a gentle alcoholic boost so perfect for a lunchtime tipple.

Overall thoughts

This shabby chic Soho spot is definitely on the fast-casual side of the JKS restaurant arc - so it's going to hit all the same notes that Hoppers did. With Cameron Dewar (ex-Londrino) running the Front of House here, service is already spot-on and the food is super. I mean, you knew it was going to be a hit, right?

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Berenjak. Prices correct at time of publication. 

 

More about Berenjak

Where is it? 27 Romilly St, Soho, London W1D 5AL

How to book: Walk-ins only. You can drink outside or leave a number and they'll call you when they have a seat for you.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram.

 

 

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