SamarQand, Marylebone

The latest venture was to this restaurant serving Russian/Uzbekistan cuisine. Yes, you heard right, I said Russian. AND it’s halal. It’s precisely the fact that it’s so different, that excited me. What’s more re-assuring is that the owner of the restaurant convinced me everything is halal, and pointed out specifically that they don’t serve pork.

As usual, I was the first one to get to the restaurant (and might I add, I was the first diner in the restaurant for the evening altogether). So, I got to experience the complete attention of the waiters, which was rather friendly. They came straight at me with choices of drinks, and such, to keep me busy. Although there isn’t a choice of ‘mocktails’ on the drinks menu, the waiters did kindly offer to put together some virgin drink options, but I didn’t take up their offer.

Being so early also gave me time to appreciate the decor, which although quite dark, was to sleek standard. There are even private rooms with flat screens (which I didn’t really inquire about).

Being in central London, as you would expect, the prices were on the high side. Hence, I would recommend going straight in for the mains, as the starters weren’t really impressive. For starters, we ordered:

  • Blini with meat: which is an, apparently, traditional Russian pancake with meat – I actually really enjoyed this, but I’m not sure about my fellow diners.
  • Pumpkin Samsa and lamb cheburek, which were both rather disappointing, mainly because of the stingy filling.
  • Complimentary bread + sauce: a restaurant who serves me complimentary food wins my heart from the word go.

Our mains didn’t take long to arrive at all, and my favourite here was definitely the house Almaty plov.

  • almaty plov: they didn’t hold back with the portions for this sweet rice dish with lamb. Plus, they even threw in a cucumber and tomato salad.
  • Manty: now this, apparently, is a russian delicacy. Thin, thin (I exaggerate the thin), steamed lamb dumplings. We were re-assured aren’t identical to what the Chinese call Dim Sum, though I beg to differ.
  • Lagman: A beefy broth noodle soup. It was satisfying, hearty, food.
  • Rustic Potato: we finished off with this, but I still don’t understand what was so rustic about these ‘chips’. Although dill sauce that was served with these chips was addictive.

Sadly, we didn’t have space for dessert, but i definitely had the honey cake in mind to try.

Ratings

Food – 3.5/5 – although the main dishes were substantial, the starters were a slight let down.

Service – 3.5/5 – they kept continuously topping up our water, suggested the house specials to us, explained what some of the Russian specialties were. And, in general, were very welcoming.

Value – 2.5/5 – each of us spent around £25-30 per head for a starter + main. We survived on just tap water.

Venue – 4/5 – Nicely decorated in browns and blacks, though a little dark. It was a good little find in Central London. Easy access from Bond Street station, perfect for an after-shopping treat (providing you haven’t already overspent)

SAS – 4/5 – it has been given a slightly high SAS factor, simply because of the originality of the cuisine. RUSSIAN! You can actually say you’ve tried Russian cuisine!

Overall:17.5/25

Review by: Azzizi

 

Address: 18 Thayer St, London W1U 3JY

Telephone: 020 7935 9393

Website: http://samarqand-restaurant.com/

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