Since Iran became America’s arch-enemy, I simply can't stop thinking of travelling to Tehran for some sabzi, kebab and palsy-walsy time with the locals. The closest I can get to that is to swing by West Kensington to one of Persian eateries there, like Mohsen, that stands apart from the rest of them Warwick Road. It has a certain lingering melancholic vibe to it, one of longing for the days of "swinging Iran," before the black robes, vice squads and gay executions. Its immaculately coiffed and jeans-clad proprietress Mrs. Mohsen’s, epitomises that Iran that is no more. "What are you going to have, darling?" her friendly grin feels like a cup of hot aromatic tea, warming you from the inside.
I admit, I did my homework so I knew what to order. Sabzi (£3, سبزی), fresh tarragon, coriander and mint served with gentle white cheese, most reminiscent of French Caprice d’Anges but featured in the menu under the misnomer of feta. In Farsi it is called paneer or panir. Another starter, kashk o bademjan (£3, کشک و بادمجان), is a paste of grilled aubergines and whey. It all makes a fantastic mix when topped on a flatbread freshly baked in the oven right in the front of the restaurant.
We were not even half way through our starters when our table became crowded with our main courses.
Chelo koubideh (£8, چلو کوبیده) is a lamb kebab, delightfully succulent and gently spiced. The promise of tenderest lamb ever is painstakingly kept I had to chase out of my head the images of cute lambs who contributed to my juicy bites. The classic Iranian pollo rice was excellent - lusciously moist and fluffy. The tomato was grilled in a most amazing fashion with evenly charred skin peeling off effortlessly to reveal the gently stewed scarlet (from the Persian سآقرلآت säqirlāt) flesh.
Khoresh gheymeh (£8.50, خورش قیمه) is a split peas and lamb cubes stew flavoured with wee dried limes. They are supposed to make the lentils more easily digestible. It looks like a kind of curry but tastes like nothing else I have tried from Morocco to Indonesia. The peculiar aroma of the dried limes overrides all, while matchstick-thin potato chips on top add an unusual twist to the texture.
The yougn waiter talked us into having a dessert, but we were an easy prey from the start. It turned out as lush as Persian poetry. What was listed in the menu as humble ice-cream (£3) turned out a sensational mix of real-pistachio flavoured creamy excellence and rose-water sorbet exuberance laced with crunchy ice noodles (!). The texture and the flavours were like nothing else you can find in high-street icecream parlours. Zoolbia and bamiyeh (£3) are pieces of deep-fried dough drenched in honey syrup - it actually tastes a huge deal better than it sounds! Iranian tea turned out to be cardamom flavoured, a nice addition to the symphony of aromas of our dessert.
Pro's: Highly delectable food. Reasonable pricing. Friendly service.
Con's: A bit off the beaten track - or is it actually a pro?
In a nutshell: A great place for introduction to Persian cuisine.
152 Warwick Road
London W14 8PS
Tel: 020 7602 9888