Kateh Restaurant

Kateh sits in a enchanting little lane in Maida Vale, not five minutes walk from the no-man’s land where the Westway meets the A4 (the fitting setting of J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island). Globe lamps hang outside and there is a silvery olive tree in the front garden. Inside, the restaurant is narrow and dimly-lit, with dark wood tables.

I dragged a Londoner and an out-of-town friend to Kateh a couple of weeks ago during a three-day, bank account busting food frenzy. We were greeted on arrival by a mournful, handsome man of about 50 and then greeted again, more effusively, by a charming woman in a smart suit. Then we were greeted by our server. Then the mournful, handsome man came to greet us more formally. This over-attention continued, culminating in a comedy moment when several servers successively tried to take our plates before we were quite done, and then one by one the servers, the charming woman, and the mournful man paraded to the table to offer their abject apologies. Kateh had recently been dinged by TimeOut for some service mishaps, so they were plainly anxious to correct the impression. It was awkward, hilarious, and rather adorable.

I thought the food was quite good, although not spectacular. I loved the taftoon naan (£2), which was crisp, steaming hot, and liberally dusted with sesame and nigella seeds. The dezfouli salad (£4) – cucumber, pomegranate, angelica powder – was fresh, sweet, tart, crunchy, and salty. It worked. Less successful was the borani spinach (£3.50), a mix of yogurt, spinach, garlic, and saffron. The garlic overshadowed the other flavours and – let’s face it – the texture was gloopy. Friend R had the dish of the evening with Chenjeh, marinated grilled pieces of lamb fillet with saffron rice. It was pricy at £14, but the meat was beautifully medium-rare and tender, and the marinade was tangy and salty and altogether yummy. My main, however, Khoreshte Bademjan (£12.50), described as a stew of baby chicken, baby aubergine, and soured grape, was dominated by tomato, and so although tasty was not memorable.

Kateh bills itself as a “sophisticated” Iranian restaurant. This and the Maida Vale location presumably justify the relatively high prices. Still, I had some sticker shock. The Meygoo (tiger prawns with carrot, ginger, green chili and lime), turned out to be four grilled prawns on a plate. £8.50 for four prawns comes out to slightly more than £2 per prawn. That’s spendy, no matter how tasty the prawns are. Our bill was £90 (we ate a salad, a dip, four prawns, and two main dishes). Even with two £22 bottles of wine, I thought this was steep, especially since earlier the same day I had a much better meal for the same price at Medlar.

As our evening progressed, and the restaurant filled up (Kateh’s doing well – on a Monday night every table was full) it got progressively louder, to the point where I couldn’t hear my friends and had to shout to make myself heard. I felt like I was at a bar, which is okay, if you’re at a bar. Kateh needs to work on the acoustics.

Overall, however, I liked Kateh, liked the food, and thought the well-intentioned service was sweet. It’s not the best Iranian restaurant in London (my quest is ongoing), but if you can afford it, it’s worth a go.

The Upshot

Kateh Restaurant

5 Warwick Place, London W9 2PX

Website: http://www.katehrestaurant.co.uk/

Phone: 020 7289 3393

Price per person: £25 – £30 – more if you’re a lush like me and order TWO bottles of wine

The verdict: Worth a go

Kateh on Urbanspoon

5 thoughts on “Kateh Restaurant

  1. I’ve heard some good things about this. The ironic thing about the service is that when it was The Green Olive (an Italian under the same owner) the service was fabulous, but the cooking a bit hit and miss.

    One big plus point for me has to be that it has converted my previously Euro-phile step dad to Persian food. No mean feat. From what you say it definitely sounds like it’s worth a try, especially as Persian food is under-represented in London, and even though it’s priced for a Maida Vale location. The lamb in particular sounds great, no cutting corners with meat quality which is great.

  2. I think kateh is the Best Iranian Restaurant in town by far.
    The quality is first class, hence the higher prices, I’d rather eat very well and pay a little more than…
    As an Iranian I’m very proud to have our food properly presented for once.

  3. Unless you have never tasted genuine Persian food before, this restaurant may appear to you as “Persian”. The food was low in quantity, high in price, and the quality was nothing to shout about, unless as I said you are a novice to Persian cooking. But two of the most awful features of this place were its incredibly tight ambiance and worse than that its unfriendly and rude staff. The head waiteress could not spreak English properly and the Italian head waiter was surly. Also watch out for being over-charged! If they can get away with it, they will. Never will go there again and will discourage others to go there as well.

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