Birthday at Berenjak

Iranian food as the new trend in London? Sign me up please

So the dreaded birthday creeps up on me again. One year older. One year wiser, I think. Still the same waist size though (don't ask me how, have you seen how much cake I eat?)

So along I go to Berenjak to celebrate mainly because i'm fascinated by Iranian food and Instagram photos of this place are luring me in like a siren. First impressions are "ok, this place is small" but that quickly changes to "ok this place is tiny" as you move to the back room to be seated among a handful of tables. It's decorated like a small Cafe in Tehran I assume, and is very cosy. The menu looks impressive although they only have a few drinks (one cocktail, two types of red/white and two beers). What you're supposed to drink, and what you're poked along by staff to try, are the non-alcoholic Sharbats (fruity cordials) which can also be "spiked" to make them more fun. So I had several of these, which may make my review of Berenjak slightly biased.

The foos lives up to the photos' standards, from a selection of starters, nice breads as you'd imagine, aubergine dips, and an amazing hummus, to the mains, various types of chicken or lamb kebabs, which aren't cheap and could be a bit bigger but are succulent; and finally onto the dessert – a baklava ice cream sandwich, which was utterly delicious and brought to the table among banging plates and a cacophony of the happy birthday song which neighbouring tables joined in with. Nice touch.

Staff are very friendly and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere feels very snug and warm as the restaurant fills up. This isn't a place that you linger in though – it's quite clinical: eat, drink, pay and go. What would be nice if they expanded to a second property would be creating more of a Persian feel, some rich carpets and more typical hot drinks from that regions perhaps. Maybe as a Western touch, some more cocktails too reflecting the flavours of Iran and finally, perhaps, a bit more generosity on the mains.