After dragging everyone across town to sweat for the evening in a steamy Paddington basement, I left the dining destination for the following night of our London jaunt down to the our friends, the lovely Beth and Ellen. And, following an exhausting day at the Paralympics, riding the Thames cable car and sunning ourselves on the river bank, Red Stripe in hand (it's a hard life), we decided not to stray too far their Elephant and Castle abode.
Which is how we came to find ourselves at Doost, a recently opened Persian Grill and Vodka Bar on Kennington High Street. Offering a menu Iranian classics, a fridge full of frozen vodkas from across the globe, and an interior decked out with trendy spotlighting and shiny black wood, I was looking forward to tucking into a refined version of the Friday night kebab with a few cold beers.
We eschewed the great value set menu (twenty quid for three courses and a shot of vodka) to share the fish platter and mixed meat kebab for four. These came with the traditional accompaniments of grilled tomato, lemon wedges, salad and sliced red onion scattered liberally with sour sumac.
The seafood comprised of some big, smoky prawns, nicely chewy calamari and a blackened salmon fillet, strewn with dill fronds, which was one of the standout dishes of the night. As with most seafood dishes we could have eaten far more, but the portion was generous enough.
The kebab plate, for me, was even better. The kenjah kebab, made from lamb fillet, was lovely; good quality lamb, charred on the outside and pink within; the chicken joojeh well spiced with saffron and lime, and succulent. My favourite, just, was the koobideh, a kebab of finely minced lamb flavoured with lemon, herbs and garlic. Miles away from the miserable, fatty, chewy skewers of meat proffered from most takeaways come the weekend.
The Iranian national dish is chewlow kebab, translating simply as Persian rice with kebab, and we couldn't eat our plates of meat and fish without heaping mounds of buttery saffron rice alongside. (I'm pretty sure our mixed grill also included bread baked in their own brick oven, but we didn't receive any, and even I was far too full by the time we realised).
We also ordered a side dish of yoghurt, mixed with fresh cucumber and herbs; perfect to cool your mouth after the salt and spice from the smoky morsels of meat and fish.
Pomegranate, walnut and feta salad; a great mixture of textures and flavours, with the pop of the seeds, crunchy nuts and creamy, salty cheese working together nicely to provide a freshness in contrast to the smoky grilled dishes.
There were two options offered for pud; Persian ice cream and baklava. The Persian ice cream was glorious, a huge mound of rose-water scented ice, mined with shards of frozen clotted cream, topped with a saffron sauce and luminous pistachio pieces.
The baklava weren't as good as those we had picked upon the Edgeware Road a few days before, but were decent enough, even if they did look slightly swamped on a giant dinner plate. We all agreed that the best pud was a DIY combination of the tooth achingly sweet pastries and rich ice cream.
Excitingly there is also a separate menu for coffee, which is offered in ten different varieties. Sadly they are all Nespresso pods, which are fine, but all seem to taste pretty much the same anyway. I had the 'blue' one, if you're at all interested.
Doost is a nice little neighbourhood restaurant, and something a little different among a sea of identikit chains and bland takeaway fare. The service was friendly, if a little distracted at times, the prices moderate (our bill came to about 30 quid each, which included plenty of food, and tip, but only two alcoholic drinks between us).
While it might not have the edginess of the Edgware Road, or the belly dancers found in Bayswater, this is decent enough Iranian fare and a useful sort of option to have up your sleeve. It's just the sort of place that would be ideal for nights out with friends or family, or stopping by for some meze and a few shots of iced vodka at the bar. And don't forget to leave some room for the Persian ice cream.