Mowlana is in no-man’s land; or what your satnav would call Four Elms Road, where the Roathiness of Newport Road gives way to the Splottiness of Clifton St. And if you say that’s not a real word, I’d respond by saying- I’ve got a bottle of chupito de manzana straight out of the freezer and Highway 61 Revisited on the iPod. And I’m not afraid to use them.
So I’m beyond caring right now.
On our first visit I had made the juvenile schoolboy error of omitting to order any bread. And bread in this kind of place tells you so much. Duly chastised and remorseful, I remedied my callow neglectfulness. Happily, this was a full cubit in length (see, I was paying attention in those RE lessons about Noah and his Ark) and bore encouraging signs: softness, punctuated by that telltale tandoor blistering that make you feel you’re in safe hands (see also: KBS on City Road).
Oh and all this bready splendour? At time of writing, that’d set you back 1.21 Euro.
The thick, creamy yoghurt with sweet garlic and shallot (Masto-O-Moosir) was mellow and fully up to the job. Another dip, a complimentary warm dish of fried aubergine with buttermilk, fresh mint and walnuts, (Kashk-O-Badenjan) was glossy and mild in flavour.
The redoutable Mrs S had gone for Khoresht Fesenjaan- the resultant thick, shiny sauce was a scalding hot gravy of remarkably tender chicken breast pieces in a pomegranate sauce. The layer of walnut oil on the surface might not be to some tastes but when it was all mixed with rice it made perfect sense. Hints of sweetness and sourness combined to make an impact that was unlike anything I can remember tasting before. It might not be visually captivating, but the flavours were best described as ‘interesting’.
My (predictable) kebab ‘Makhsoos’ did not disappoint. The unusual expedient of eschewing (oooh, get ‘er, and her matching shoes…) chunks of lamb in favour of a piece of neck fillet, sliced thinly and further beaten out to facilitate quick chargrilling, works so well. Both visually…
…and texturally. The chicken shish, marinated in saffron and lemon juice and ginger sat on lamb that was so tender, the supplied serrated knife was about as needed as a David Guetta remix of Strangeways Here We Come. In other words, it parted with side-of-a-fork pressure. Our waiter was at pains to tell us that they always bought good cuts of lamb- not the more usual mutton- and prepared them to be cooked quickly and retaining flavour. (And kudos for not dressing the plate with the ubiquitous iceberg…) A squeeze of lemon, a dollop of the creamy garlic from earlier, a dab of punchy chilli sauce, a smear of light olive oil and we were away. I’ve rarely eaten better; the breasts pieces, so easy to overcook and pummel into dismal dessication, were noticeably tender. I’m trying not to use words here like ‘melting’ or ‘moist’ but you get the picture.It might ‘only’ be a kebab- but it’s done with precision. All in all, consumate kebbabery.
So- bread, grilled meat, salad. The perfect post-work trinity of happy-making food. Bung in some so-fresh-they’re-virtually-made-in-front-of-you juices (lime and mint was just the ticket) and a bill that was less than £30 for two, and you leave happy; happy you’ve got a stomach nicely full of some basic but careful and sincere cooking- and happy you’ve stumbled across an unheralded, unhyped but welcoming and reliable local choice. The staff here really seem to care whether or not you’re enjoying your food- always ready with an informed recommendation and genuinely welcoming.
Mowlana Persian Restaurant
2-4 Four Elms Road
02920 480 100
07733 853 300
Mowlana on Urbanspoon
This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.