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Gilak’s workaday decor – dark wooden furniture, whitewashed walls dotted with photos of the Caspian Sea, a cabinet of dusty knick-knacks – is rather spartan, though mellow Persian melodies and fairy lights are preferable to the muzak and harsh overhead lighting we’ve experienced here in the past. The kitchen specialises in the cuisine of Gilan, the northern Iranian province bordering the Caspian Sea, and much of the menu has a briny tang. Smoked mackerel pops up unexpectedly in a whole range of dishes, alongside the usual pomegranate, dried limes and dried plums. Starters of kale kabab, a blend of aubergine, fresh herbs and tangy pomegranate juice, and salad olivieh, a Gilani rendition of russian salad, didn’t disappoint on flavour but were served too chilled, and the presentation was unimaginative: two bowls of beige mush. Mains worked better: zereshk polow ba morgh (tender braised chicken with saffron rice, exotic sweet-sour barberries and chopped almonds and pistachios), and kabab momtaz (melt-in-the-mouth chicken and succulent lamb, in a zesty marinade, grilled to perfection, served with fluffy rice dotted with saffron). Gilak is a perfectly good local but lacks the atmosphere to transport diners away from the noisy Holloway Road outside.
663 Holloway Road
|Transport:||Tube: Archway tube or Upper Holloway rail|
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