As previously mentioned, MA-MA is a proud half-Egyptian and a strong embracer of everything that entails: love of cats, afternoon siestas and extreme over-packing on holiday. Despite being the most English man alive, Dadada loves his warm Egyptian in-laws and has embraced Middle Eastern culture, especially the tasty food. His favourites are falafel (officially Egyptian FYI) and pepper and walnut muhummara dip, and he is a very enthusiastic drinker and promoter of Grand Marquis Egyptian red wine.
With that in mind, I was keen to get involved and sample some of these Middle Eastern snacks for myself, and Eid a couple of weeks ago seemed like the perfect occasion to go for a family feast. MA-MA’s favourite Arabic restaurants are Luxor in Sharm-el-Sheikh and Maroush on Edgware Road, but given that we struggle to get organised enough to leave Notting Hill more than once a month and we all found our one and only flight to Portugal together slightly traumatic, it made sense to look for somewhere closer to home.
Luckily we live just off Portobello Road, home to everything you could ever want to eat and a couple of things you wouldn’t. We decided to go with Anar Kitchen, a Persian restaurant at the Golborne Road end of Portobello. This area used to be pretty shabby and hip, but now that a Pizza East has opened and a development that boasts 2 million quid townhouses and an “interior designed entrance lobby” is being built, its gentrification is now well and truly mission accomplished.
First impressions were very good – snazzy chandeliers and a pretty black and gold colour scheme. Clientele was very chic, a mix of actual Middle Eastern diners and original Notting Hillbillies like my good self, so I felt very at home. Top marks for having a highchair (it amazes me that some restaurants don’t) and for getting our order down quickly. I think the definition of “family friendly” very much depends on your own personal prefernces, but I am confident that most babies can only tolerate being pinned down in a high chair without food for a limited amount of time before a meltdown starts, so I wish they had brought out some of the food a little sooner. Bread within the first few minutes of ordering is a very simple touch that eases the whole family’s nerves!
Once it arrived, the food was all very good. Freshly baked naan bread was very flavoursome and warm, and the hummus was nothing like the plastic stuff we get from Tesco. Dadada and I shared a Makhsos, a mixed skewer of chicken and minced lamb that was marinaded in something rather addictive, while MA-MA went for her standard dolmeh, lovely gooey stuffed vine leaves. Dadada likes to have chicken wings as a side order to every meal and luckily their slow-grilled version was “even better than the ones from Dominos”. High praise indeed. Everything was served with well cooked rice and lots of fresh salad that MA-MA inhaled and Dadada and I ignored.
Overall, I am delighted to have Anar Kitchen in my little black book of local haunts. MA-MA felt it was very good value and liked the friendly staff.
Dadada’s opinion review is “nice grub, would prefer to come here without Flynn next time” – he’s working on that warm Egyptian attitude to family :D.