"Azerbaijani food for Knightsbridge"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Azerbaijan is a country best known for its oil industry and battle for independence (and its struggle with democracy, but that’s a story for another time). Its capital is Baku, but this particular Baku is in Knightsbridge, nestled between the priciest of designer shops.
The country’s location bordering Russia and Iran means its food has influences from both these cuisines, and is for the most part simple and hearty, with dumplings, soups and stews. Naturally the menu at Baku has been glammed up for the Sloane Street crowd, with caviar from the Caspian Sea and a very non-traditional sushi selection. However the chef has made an audacious attempt to reinvent things like the humble shepherd’s salad, using Azerbaijani recipes and western ingredients to entice customers who may be unsure of this relatively unknown gastronomy. And so the aforementioned salad here has mini caramelised onion rings, sundried cherry tomatoes and cubes of feta cheese sitting very daintily in a creamy dressing.
Squid rings are paired with shelled broad beans and sumac, a citrusy, highly fragrant seasoning typical of the Middle East, while a more Russian-inspired dumpling soup has a clear lamb broth with a hint of spice, in it a parcel of minced lamb and julienne cut vegetables. The stand out dish is the “country chicken”, which consists of cuts of succulent poultry wrapped in crispy skin with dollops of sweetcorn and parsnip purée.
For dessert there’s a crowd-pleasing chocolate fondant, with pistachio ice cream and jellied cubes of green tea and caramel. Also worthy of note is the wine list, which aside from the obligatory reserves and champagnes (they have three vintages of Pétrus, including a magnum for £13,100) has informed choices like Georgian saperavi.
Upstairs there is a cocktail bar that’s buzzier than the restaurant; both are glitzy enough to attract the local clientele. Then who knows, perhaps Azerbaijani could be the new Russian.
Leila reviewed Baku on Wed 06 Nov 2013