Reviewed by William Dobson
There’s a certain frustration in London that the closer to the centre of town you go, the more restaurants feel they can inflate their prices, usually unjustifiably. It’s a criticism which could well be pointed in the direction of Kazan, a trendy Turkish joint, in Pimlico with its SW1 postcode and accordingly lofty prices. However, to do so would be to gloss over the fact that the food here is actually rather good. It might not be vastly different in quality from many of the Turkish eateries, hiding away in some of the murkier areas of London, and it’s certainly less authentic. But, at the same time, it’s no crime to want to eat in more august surroundings every now and then, even if you might have to shell out a few extra quid for the pleasure, especially when you throw in attentive, informed and jovial service and an extensive wine list.
Furthermore, what Kazan does really well is mix up traditional Turkish fare with a more modern twist on the cuisine, described as ‘Ottoman fusion.’ For instance, on the one hand, one of the starters we plumped for was the borek, or filo pastry stuffed with feta and spinach. Quintessentially Turkish, these heavenly bites transported our taste buds straight to the shores of the Bosphorus. At the other end of the spectrum, were the black tiger prawns with sage, deep fried in a tempura batter, about as Turkish in inspiration as sashimi and miso soup. However, they were truly delightful. Served with a yoghurt and cucumber dip, for a bit of Middle Eastern flavour, the fresh, sweetness of the prawn was offset beautifully by the peppery bitterness of the earthy and floral herb.
Despite the temptation of some of the seafood offerings, in particular the sea bass parcel, which sounded delectable, slow baked in parchment paper infused with raki (a spirit made from grapes and flavoured with anise) and various herbs, it’s hard to go to any Middle Eastern restaurant and look far past their selection of grilled meats. The Ottoman Grill, a vast platter of various bits of chicken and lamb, with shish kebab, kofte, chop, poussin and garlic sausage was reasonable if slightly uninspired. However, it was the kulbasti which will keep me returning. This grilled fillet of lamb, cooked perfectly pink in the middle, was tender and full of a rich meaty flavour. Furthermore, it had been marinated in olive oil and rosemary with perhaps a hint of sweet redcurrant detected, working perfectly to enhance the natural flavours. Again, perhaps not authentically Turkish but, when it tastes as good as this, who cares? All was served with warm and delicious flatbread, chunky crisps and soft, fluffy rice.
In a city where Turkish food usually means heading up to Dalston and flipping a coin to choose between one of the many ockabasi-style joints which line Stoke Newington High Street, Kazan offers something different. Yes, you might have to pay a bit more but it’s worth it. Moreover, it’s refreshing to see someone taking fundamentally Turkish flavours, big, bold and brash, and then refining them to showcase something so special in a more elegant and upmarket setting.
Visit Restaurant Website
Address: 93-94 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DW
Telephone: 020 7233 7100
Average Price Per Person: £30 - 35