Restaurant review: Abshar Persian restaurant

By - Tuesday 30th June, 2015

Joy Akwue-Butler is left disappointed after a promisingly flavoursome start

67 South End, Croydon CR0 1BF

Time from East Croydon: 15 minutes / 5 minutes 119, 466 or 312

Photo author’s own.

On Friday 29th May I organised a get-together with my friend Jo, as we hadn’t been able to meet up for some time due to work constraints. We decided to try something totally different, so we booked a table at Abshar Persian Restaurant.

Jo arrived before me and asked Jasmine the waitress if she could tell her something about Persian food: unfortunately Jasmine could say nothing about it. When Jo was given the menu and asked what the five starters that were listed consisted of, again Jasmine replied that she didn’t know!

Thankfully Hussain, who showed me to our table, did know about Persian food, as he was head chef, but also acting restaurant manager (as their current manager was away on holiday). He was very helpful and friendly, explained that Persian food comes from Iran and is mainly made up of lamb, chicken, rice and aubergine dishes. The main menu bears this out, as every other dish was a variation of the same theme!

Abshar has been in existence for over five years, which I was quite surprised at, as I’ve only recently noticed it was there. It has authentic décor and is much bigger inside than it appears from the outside.

It was relatively quiet at 6:30pm, but by 9:00pm it was completely full. Their clientele was mainly made up of couples and friendship groups, which included young and old alike.

Photo author’s own.

As usual Jo and I were talking so much that it took a while before we were actually ready to order. We asked Hussain to recommend some typical Persian dishes, so Jo ordered the mirza ghasemi – grilled crushed aubergine, slow cooked with tomatoes, garlic and eggs (£3.50). I ordered dolmeh – stuffed vine leaves with rice and aromatic herbs (£3.20). We also ordered some naan bread (£1.20), which was cooked in an open clay oven in the corner of the restaurant. We ordered a bottle of house white wine (£13.95) with a bottle of tap water. In addition Hussain kindly added another dish to our starters, kashke bademjan – fried crushed aubergine, slow cooked and sprinkled with walnuts, fried onions and Persian kashk (£3.50).

Jo found her starter very rich, with intense flavours. Mine came with five portions of stuffed vine leaves, which I shared with her, and was served on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. The vine leaves were covered with tiny berries, which as you bit into them tasted sweet and minty. But the best of the three was the dish Hussain had given us on the house: the aubergine texture was interesting (maybe even a little off-putting) but it tasted delicious especially when eaten with the warm naan bread.

Once again we weren’t quite sure what to order for our main course. We again asked Hussain for his advice, but Jo decided to order the khoresht fesenjan – diced chicken cooked in an ancient recipe sauce of thick pomegranate and walnut, served with rice (£9.95). I followed Hussain’s advice and went for the makhsous – combination of kebab koubideh & kebab bargh served with saffron rice, grilled tomato and salad (£11.95).  Our dishes arrived: Jo’s dish was a very rich thick sauce, which was quite oily and contained hardly any chicken.  The taste was so strong that Jo couldn’t eat it, and I only managed three spoons of it.

My dish came with two types of lamb ‘kebab’, I preferred the lamb on the bottom layer, as the one on the top reminded me of the kebabs I used to buy, many, many years ago! I have to admit the saffron rice was light, fluffy & tasty, but the salad could have done with some vinaigrette dressing. Although the lamb came with a small side pot of sauce, overall the dish was very dry.

Jo and I were both disappointed, as after an interesting first course, we’d both been hopeful the main course would be even better. It wasn’t. Abshar doesn’t pretend to have any airs or graces:L it serves basic food and has friendly staff. If that’s what you’re after and you enjoy kebabs, it won’t disappoint you.

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler works as the Operations Manager for IKM TeckChek Europe whose UK office is based in Croydon. She has lived and worked in the area for over 20 years. She currently lives in Caterham with her partner and has one daughter – Jasmine. Joy loves eating good food and enjoys socialising!

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