Eat your way through the credit crunch – bring your own booze! £5 bottles of wine in hand we bring you our guide to the best of the BYOs.
The outfit: Masoud, 201, Castelnau, Barnes, LONDON SW13 9ER Tel: 020 8563 8638
The hours of business: 12 noon – 11pm, 7 days a week.
The bottom-line: a popular Iranian restaurant under the same ownership as Super Masoud in Olympia. Although the canopy outside proclaims it to be a bar as well, it is unlicensed. This is in all probability because Iranians are ever anxious to please, and this way they keep both the devout and the decadent camps of their fellow countrymen happy. If you forget to bring your own, the staff are very happy to whizz across to the offy to fetch you a bottle. A row of shishe pipes in the corner suggests that (at least when the weather is good enough) you can enjoy a post-prandial puff at the outside tables. The gaff stands out from other Iranian eateries in two important ways: firstly it is subtly lit, oozing ambience. And secondly the staff are actually all (English speaking) Iranian and well-informed about the food they serve.
The local market: the premises are but a frog’s leap south of Hammersmith Bridge, which means that Iranians feel secure enough to make their way there (there is a certain snobbery amongst ex-pat Persians which makes them feel nervous if they are too far from Kensington). But it was obvious from our visit that a lot of well-heeled Barnes locals have discovered it too.
The bread, chips and gravy: Not an obvious venue for the vegetarian about town (although the menu does have a token veggie main course). Iranians out on the culinary razzle want meat cooked over fire, and that is what this place is all about: kebabs. There is an (inoffensive) sizzling, woody haze about the place as the chefs cook in front of you. We chose panir and sabzi – the quintessential Iranian starter or fresh herbs, feta and walnuts, with fresh hot lavash naan so big you could wrap a small child in it. We added a few dips – kashk-e-bademjun being a favourite, a smoky aubergine dip with whey, and guzzled doogh – fizzy salted yoghurt drink. For the main courses we recommend the mixed grill, which is enough for three Iranians (perhaps four of anything else). Although we actually tried the sea bass out of sheer contrariness: this was also barbecued and cooked to perfection, if served on a rather ‘busy’ plate. Pudding? Well, not much choice, but it is unlikely that you will have room. There is Persian ice cream or sorbet, or sticky honey cakes: try the latter with a big pot of Persian tea. The Iranians we had borrowed to take there gave it eight out of ten – which is pretty impressive.
A capital choice to: enjoy an indoor barbecue, bisto some Persian atmosphere, indulge your inner carnivore.
The damage: £20 per head will see you eating like shahs. Mains start at £6.95.
What’s your favourite BYO? Have a look at some of ours.