"Orkideh’s menu is concise, but flavours are spot on"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Iranian restaurant Orkideh feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. It’s actually on Finchley Road, which suggests shops and civilization, but the 15 minute walk from Golders Green tube takes us past large detached houses barely seen over the tall creepy hedges that conceal them. Luckily Orkideh feels a lot more comforting; it’s warm, the lighting is subdued and overall it’s sleeker than a lot of Persian restaurants. It’s worth mentioning at this point that having an Iranian mother means I have to partake in an annual ritual when my parents decide to leave the comfort of their home to eat out, in honour of both their birthdays which happen to be three days apart. We always end up at an Iranian restaurant, sometimes in places as far-flung as Bounds Green or Ealing.
In any case, there is also an unusually large wine list, the waitress isn’t Iranian, and the other customers are British, so seemingly Orkideh is a little more Western than the tiny family-run ventures in North London I’m accustomed to.
We start with borani, a dish of thick yoghurt and fried spinach with onion which is lusciously creamy with a hint of citrus. The paneer sabzi is a dish of cheese and herbs, including fresh tarragon, mint and watercress, (just like my aunt serves at the dinner table) with a hunk of feta cheese, the real stuff, not any old imitation salad cheese. Persian feta is creamier and softer than European versions, without losing any of its tanginess. The burrata is intriguing, an Italian cheese that’s more gooey than Mozzarella is paired with sweet cubes of roasted beetroot. It’s an excellent variation on the original dish which uses thick yoghurt rather than cheese. The meat balls are great too, herby and stuffed with split peas and rice, in a flavoursome tomato and onion sauce.
Mains consist of either stews or grilled meats. The ghafghazi is a skewer of marinated, very juicy chicken and lamb pieces, with heaps of saffron rice. Anar beech is a darkly coloured, sweetened stew made with pomegranate and walnuts, the sauce smothering mini beef meatballs.
The dessert selection is limited to saffron ice cream, a date and walnut cookie or “Persian mille feuille”, layers of very thin, flaky pastry covering gloopy Chantilly cream with a dollop of ice cream speckled with vanilla pods. It’s simple and very good.
Orkideh’s menu is concise, yet the flavours are spot-on, I’ll be suggesting this for next year’s birthday pilgrimage. A three course meal for two with wine is a very reasonable £60.
Leila reviewed Orkideh on Mon 06 Feb 2012