Kandoo: Kan-does (March 2015)

Don’t be put off either by the name (shared with a brand of potty training wipes) or the location (in the less salubrious part of the Edgware Road); Kandoo does some of the best Middle Eastern food to be found in London. I have been a sporadic visitor to the restaurant over the last fifteen years since it opened, but a recent weekend lunchtime trip there confirmed that the place is still delivering, in terms of food, service and value. Despite the somewhat unpromising location, inside, the main dining room is an oasis of calm, with beautiful tiling on the floor, an authentic free-standing oven for bread-baking (which fascinated the young children in our group) and traditional paintings on the walls. It is also worth remembering that there is a gem of a hidden garden at the back of the restaurant which diners can enjoy in warmer moments. Olives were brought to our table on arrival and we then had time to peruse the menu. The culinary style here is Persian, but the range of dishes is not markedly dissimilar to many other Middle Eastern restaurants. We opted to share a number of starters and were highly impressed with the fried aubergines and onions in a yoghurt puree as well as the simple but most effective homemade yoghurt mixed with chopped wild garlic. Beyond the theatre of the bread-making, the said bread is also wonderful, lighter and more flavoursome than the default pitta which often accompanies such dishes. The mains also pleased, particularly the minced lamb kebabs, which were wonderfully juicy. Be aware that Kandoo does not serve alcohol although diners may bring their own (which indeed we did). Helped by not paying for a bottle of wine and the children just drinking tap water, we were still pleasantly surprised to find the bill – even including coffees – for two adults and two children came to comfortably less than £50. Everything was delivered with a smile and we were just surprised that the place was not busier, with fewer than half the tables occupied. It does fill up in the evenings and in summer, but the experience remains highly satisfying at all times.