From the moment you take the escalator up to its gilded entrance, Gilgamesh is in danger of putting style before substance. The carved wooden interior and extravagant lighting offer a glamorous escape from Camden Market below for fawning couples and those out to impress.
But the spell is quickly broken. Windows overlook rattling freight trains. Staff in headsets, and a toilet attendant, seem to belong in a West End nightclub. Service ranged from overly attentive to stand-offish and slow. The pan-Asian food is equally inconsistent, veering from beautifully crisp son-in-law eggs spiked with chilli and tamarind sauce, to a watery mouthful of pomelo banh trang roll.
We ordered one set menu, which was great value for its quantity, but not its quality; the tired-looking house salad and lamb with sweet potato mash were shown up by the tastier à la carte offerings. There’s a good selection of Thai and Malaysian curries, dim sum and delicate sushi, as well as predictably modish dishes such as miso black cod and wagyu beef, but the food simply can’t compete with the overdone surroundings.
Drinks are themed along Babylonian lines: the Sun God Anu is celebrated in martini form with Absolut Peach, Bombay gin, peach and cucumber; the Sumerian city of Shuruppak is honoured with 42 Below vodka, apricot, peach, watermelon, berries and pineapple. Even the mocktails are named after the Tigris and Euphrates, and involve a whole mess of cranberry, lychee, pink grapefruit and rose petal. The only beer is Tiger, from Singapore – surely somebody could have dug up a bottle of ancient Sumerian Ninkasi?