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superb chelow kebab at Kateh in Little Venice (London)

t
trueblu Apr 22, 2011 03:58 PM

We now live in Boston, but visit England a few times a year. On this trip I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that there is a new fantastic chelow kabab (persian) restaurant in little venice/maida vale. We went to check it out with my family. Since we were with my very young daughter, we went for a very early reservation (18:30). When we arrived, the restaurant was practically empty. By the time we left at 20:30, it was positively buzzing. It's in a rather small space, but they have tables in the basement and ground level, as well as a very cute outside terrace which has a couple of tables.

With regards to the decor: it's rather understated/ elegant, and although there's one or two iranian art pieces on display, it's not at all ethnic kitsch. A standout were the immaculate toilets -- the most spotless/ chic I've ever seen in an iranian restaurant anywhere!

The menu included a lot of persian favourites, but also some more unusual dishes. We had the excellent, baked on the premises flatbread with 'mast o musir' -- yoghurt with shallots, which was superb. Other starters were 'donbalan' -- a not commonly seen grilled sweet-bread, which was simply outstanding -- melt in mouth tender (although ask for a lemon to squeeze over it), and the baby grilled octopus, which is not a typical iranian dish. Although this was OK, it was not up to par with the other dishes.

For mains we had the usual chelow kabab: kebabs served on rice. The 'koobideh', made with minced veal was really, really excellent. Although seemingly simple, it is often difficult to do this well -- it either comes out dry or too fatty. This was spot on: very juicy, but not too fatty. I also had 'barg', a fillet of lamb. This was good, and better than many others I've had, but I personally prefer the koobideh. The portions of rice were a little on the small side, but otherwise the mains were excellent. We had tap water and 'doogh' -- a traditional yoghurt drink with our meal.

For dessert we had the saffron ice-cream - rich but not overpowering, the plum strudel -- very good (not a typical iranian dessert) and the koolucheh -- a sort of rich, chewy cookie with ice-cream. All were very good, with the ice-cream top notch.

All in all, the damage came to just under GBP100 with tip for four adults. One can have chelow kabab for much less in London, but this was a quality meal and extremely good value at that. The one sl. note of caution -- the service seemed a little disjointed at times. For example, we asked for a side dish that was not on the menu, checked it was OK, but it only came late, and half complete. It wasn't put on the bill, however.

Highly recommended, especially once service issues get sorted.

tb

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  1. limster RE: trueblu Apr 23, 2011 05:13 AM

    Thanks for the detailed and insightful review! Will have to try them soon. One more question, how was the rice; any sign of tah-dig/crispy rice form the bottom of the pot?

    3 Replies
    1. re: limster
      t
      trueblu RE: limster Apr 23, 2011 05:33 AM

      Yes, in fact the side-dish I referred to was 'tah-dig': it's not on the menu, but is a by-product of cooking rice, persian style, so it should always be available. I asked for the tah-dig to come topped with a traditional iranian stew 'khoresh', but it came out by itself -- it was excellent -- very thick and crunchy, but could have done with being moistened up a bit, hence my quibble.

      tb

      1. re: trueblu
        howler RE: trueblu Apr 23, 2011 06:22 AM

        very interesting .. i checked out the menu online

        http://www.katehrestaurant.co.uk/menu/

        and they have some unusual items - using burrata in a starter for example. and the kebabs are described as indo persian, but the only indian item i see is the chicken tikka. oh, there's also a starter, bombay potato cake, which is probably what indians would call a patties.

        looks like they want to be a bit adventurous, and are just .... barely ... tipping their toes out to see if these non-traditional items sell.

        1. re: trueblu
          limster RE: trueblu Apr 23, 2011 06:37 AM

          Awesome. I've had a pretty good version of this at Alounak near the Kensington Olympia tube, but it was a couple of years ago.

      2. greedygirl RE: trueblu Apr 23, 2011 06:25 AM

        This restaurant was very well reviewed by Time Out this week - so expect it to be packed for the next month or so!

        1 Reply
        1. re: greedygirl
          t
          trueblu RE: greedygirl Apr 23, 2011 07:51 AM

          Yep, I saw the time out review after making the booking and was worried it would be super busy. It certainly was after 20:00, but if one goes early (at least on Good Friday, which may not be terribly indicative), it was very quiet.

          Small places like this can go boom and bust -- hope that as long as the quality continues, it does well.

          tb

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