Dastarkhan, N7 8DL
- 203 Holloway Road
Dastarkhan was a Kazakh restaurant in Lower Holloway, located on the second floor of an Irish pub called Phibbers. It has now closed. As of early 2011 the premises are occupied by a central Asian/eastern European restaurant called Cigansky-Rai (see The Skinny Bib review). According to Companies House there seems to be no connection between Dastarkhan and its replacement.
The information below is retained for people who want to know what it used to be like.
Kake, Laura, bellaphon, and MsMarmiteLover visited on a Thursday evening in April 2009. We'd booked, but probably hadn't needed to, since the place remained mostly empty throughout our visit. We were offered our choice of table, and picked a topchan (a low carpeted pedestal for shoeless crosslegged dining) near the window.
Service was charming, if a little lacking in spoken English skills. Our waiter was clearly trying his best to understand us, and kept a smile on his face throughout.
The food, however, was quite disappointing. Of the starters, aubergine salad photo tasted like it came from a jar, and a plate of pickles were limp and lacklustre. The breadbasket included a few pieces of baursaki (Kazakh fried bread) bulked out with triangles of thick "white sliced". The baursaki were interesting, but unpleasantly chewy in parts, as were the cheburek (fried meat-filled pasties). Perhaps the best starter was the Russian-style herring, which although a little salty had a good texture and flavour.
Mains were boring. Bellaphon's beshbarmak (meat with wide flat noodles) photo was watery and flavourless. Kake's pumpkin and meat manti (steamed dumplings) and MsMarmiteLover's veggie manti were OK, but not very interesting, and the sour cream that traditionally goes with them never materialised. Laura's plov (meat with rice) photo may have been the best dish of the evening, but this isn't saying much.
Ample food plus two bottles of wine between the four of us came to around £25/head.
They advertise shisha, but it's not clear where you get to smoke it.
Kake's verdict: I don't know whether Kazakh cuisine as a whole should be blamed for our disappointing experience here, or whether Dastarkhan simply isn't up to scratch. I do, however, think that if you're looking for Kazakh food in London right now, Kyrgyz Kazah House in Camberwell might be a better bet.
Accessibility: The restaurant is up two flights of stairs from the ground floor of the pub, and the toilets are on the ground floor.