Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday Night at Darvish 9/10

So Joe and I have to admit something - we're jumping on the Jamie Oliver band wagon this week with our restaurant choice.  We have driven past Darvish on Roundhay Road every day for a few years now, and not given it too much thought, until we saw Jamie Oliver's program a few weeks ago.  It is shameful, but we've been now and I want everyone else to give it a try too!

Darvish is a traditional Persian tea house and has been open since 2005 and is a proper family run restaurant. The menu is not massive, but there are some interesting dishes on there.  They also don't serve any booze, but do let you bring your own for £3 corkage which  is pretty reasonable.

For starters, we wanted to try something a bit different and asked our waiter for recommendations.  He said that the mirza ghasemi was very popular, and we also opted for the houmous (on a twitter recommendation).  Mirza ghasemi is a dip made of grilled aubergines, tomatoes, egg, spices and garlic, and is one of the best things I have eaten recently - really full of flavour and perfectly balanced.  The houmous was also really good and fresh, and both come with naan, which are enormous!  I am a huge fan of the naans - fresh, crisp and light, cooked in a tandoor in full view of the restaurant, they are a true revelation!

Mirza ghasemi - aubergine dip
The first of our three naan (three!!!)
For mains, we decided to try a stew and a grilled dish, to make sure we had tried a proper representation of the menu.  We went for the joojeh kebab, which is a grilled chicken marinaded in lemon and saffron served with salad and rice or a naan (I had another naan - glutton!), and the ghaymeh bademjan which is diced lamb with split peas, aubergine and dried lime.  The picture below does not look great, but this was my favourite part of the meal - it was intensely flavoured with dried lime and saffron, which is quite unusual but delicious.
ghaymeh bademjan - lamb with split peas and dried lime
Grilled marinaded chicken
Saffron rice, which accompanied the lamb stew
And because we hadn't already eaten a huge amount, Joe convinced me to try the desserts (alright, it didn't take very much persuading at all).  We had been told the ice cream was really good, so that was an obvious choice, and then Joe made a spur of the moment decision to get baklava as well.  The baklava was lovely but I could not rave more about the ice cream.  It is either made by Murteza's wife or another local woman and is flavoured with green cardamon, rose and saffron, with pistachio sprinkles.  It is perfumed, sweet, and really tasty.
The saffron ice cream
Darvish was pretty busy tonight, but I would really recommend anyone who hasn't already been to give it a chance.  The service is good but laid back - we were able to spend a good 30 minutes over our starters, chatting and checking out the other customers.  It is a perfect venue for a relaxed evening with friends and good food.  Our meal cost £30, including a tip, which is a true bargain for such a lovely night.
The restaurant - complete with Rufus Hound lookalike at the next table!

Oh - and I was meant to put up some pictures of my dinner at the junior lawyers' ball last night at the Queens Hotel, but a) they are horrific, and b) the food was not the best so I'm not going to waste your time with it!  Suffice to say, the pea risotto was vile but the wine was drinkable and I had a great time with my friends so I'm over it!

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