There’s nothing conventional about Anar’s approach to contemporary Persian cuisine. You’ll find none of the gaudy orientalism prevalent at other Iranian restaurants in London, but rather a bare-brick interior lit by candles, a mix of modern banquettes and small cubic stools, and tall windows overlooking the residential end of Portobello Road. There’s even a wine list (but only one bottled beer). Music on our visit was Arabic, not Iranian, and the downstairs toilet promoted an Ancienne Ambiance candle called ‘Persia’ (‘as recommended by Vogue’).
Will London’s stubbornly traditional Iranian set be swung by such tactics? It seems an idle question, given that Anar’s target audience appears to be experimental Notting Hill locals, of which there were many on our visit, mispronouncing starters and struggling to locate main courses not featuring lamb. Not that the food should trouble even staunch traditionalists; a starter of ash-e reshteh (bean and noodle soup) was fine, if served in an unnecessarily dramatic terracotta pot complete with lid, and zereshk polo ba morgh was a decent version of a Persian kitchen classic: a mound of saffron rice with sour barberries, served with a side of braised chicken. A worthy addition to the area.