A hot summer in the city is one of my favourite things. Of course, like everything in life, there are caveats - being pressed into an armpit on the Northern line in rush hour, or walking around Soho on bin day have their own special olfactory charm – but, overall, there is a special excitement to the heat haze and sticky asphalt; the dead streets; and getting a frozen strawberry lemonade form the McDonald’s in Walworth Road (if they’re not cleaning the machines, again) on the way back to Stealth’s after a big night out.
Eating on occasions like these demands a laid-back approach. Sure, you can enjoy the icy blast of air-conditioning somewhere identikit, but far better to be gently sweating somewhere with the door propped open; a redundant fan in the corner, blowing the hot air about; and simple food washed down with a cooling libation or two. All of which boxes Patogh, just off the Edgware road successfully ticks.
Sitting by the window meant a cooling breeze, and a fascinating view down to the kaleidoscope of one of London's most vibrant thoroughfares, but I did feel sympathy for the guys working behind the blazing grills and charcoal oven. Especially as I suspect they were more than twelve hours in to their fast for Ramadan.
It isn't licenced, but you can bring your own alcohol. As we'd had a few poky #trainbeers on the way there, I stuck to the sparkling water while the Ewing had her favourite, doogh. A divisive (the thought gives me the dry heaves) thin yoghurt drink with added salt and mint, it proved an ideal way for her to temper the heat.
Mixed starters brought a platter featuring shairazi salad (chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley); two tangy yoghurts, one with shallot and one with cucumber; and creamy houmous topped with a thicket of fresh herbs.
Although it wasn't advertised, they also bought us a dish of mixed pickled veg that were very similar to the jars of 'Nanny pickle' my grandmother made. We all used to fight over the green tomatoes when I was growing up, and the Ewing and I were soon locked in a nostalgic battle for the best bits.
To scoop up our dips we also ordered the big special bread, which has got to be one of the best, and most accurately, named dishes in town. What turns up is indeed big and made of bread, and its pretty special too. Cooked in their own clay oven, it's at turns crusty and chewy and pillowy with a wonderful smoky, nutty flavour from the charred spots and the sesame seeds scattered on top.
Chelo khoresh ghaimah was a stew of split yellow peas, diced lamb and dried lime; slow cooked in a tomato sauce with 'potato cubs' and topped with crisp-like potato matchsticks. I'm not normally a big fan of a stew, especially when stewing in the heat, but here the meat was gently yielding, the sauce deep and rich and glossy, and the spiky sour edge from the citrus made it perfect for the weather.
Chelow Kebab - the Iranian national dish of steamed saffron rice topped with skewered meat - come in the choice of two meats; lamb or chicken, and two varieties; kofte and shish; or you can go wild and have a mixture of the two. I chose the lamb kofte, served with a suggestion of salad and with more saffron rice - topped with a pleasing large lump of butter. This, with a good squirt of their homemade chilli sauce, is kebab perfection. And you don't even have to be pissed.
Fabulous, fast food, friendly service and, at thirty quid for the lot, great value anywhere - not just in this frenetic corner of town. All making Patogh a great option, come rain or shine.
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone