Image above: Rendezvous restaurant, 18-20 Chiswick High Rd

Traditional Persian food

Some years ago, when I first moved to Chiswick, I got to know Homi, a parent at my daughter’s school. She is good at many things, cooking amongst them, and she introduced me to Persian food. To someone whose only interraction with walnuts growing up was trying to crack the blighters at Christmas, spending all Christmas day picking little tiny bits out the crushed remains of the shells, if came as something of a revelation to me that you could cook with walnuts, as in actually make sauces from them.

This revolutionised my thinking about walnuts. I think she made Fesenjan, a chicken stew with walnuts, chickpeas and pomegranates. A traditional dish from Northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea, the walnuts are ground, making a rich, sumptuous sauce, with turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe dates back to the Persian Empire (500 BC) and was often made on the night of winter solstice (‘Yalda’) the darkest night of the year.

Images above: Kofteh Tabrizi; sharing platter of grilled meat

George Zomodi, owner of Rendezvous restuarant at 18-20 Chiswick High Rd, tells me his menu is composed of traditional Persian dishes, but the stylish presentation is European.

Though Iranian himself, he has been in London for many years and owned several restaurants before this one. His family were hoteliers, who owned the Milestone hotel opposite Hyde Park. He set up Monkey Business in the 1990s, a Tex Mex restaurant in Covent Garden, which boasted a train running around inside, was featured in Tatler magaine and frequented by the likes of Boy George and George Michael.

Since then he has set up and sold on several other restaurants, including one themed on Chicago in the 1920s, another themed on Native American culture and more recently a French restaurant. Now he has returned to his own culture, providing authentic Persian food in Chiswick since 2018.

Image above: table at Rendezvous restuarant

Sharing platters for tasting a variety of dishes

The sharing platters at Rendezvous are a good way of trying out different dishes. We tried Kofteh Tabrizi – meatballs with rice, split peas, chopped resh herbs and spices cooked with fresh tomatoes and onion paste.

We had Mirza Ghasemi – mashed chargrilled smoked aubergine with tomatoes and garlic, topped with a quail’s egg. We shared some Kashke Bademjan – chargrilled mashed, baked aubergine with onion paste, yoghurt, mint and walnuts (my favourite) and Mast O Khiar, a strained creamy yoghurt with chopped cucumber and mint, topped with crushed walnuts. All were delicious, served with Taftoon, a Persian flatbread topped with sesame seeds.

There are pages of kebabs and grilled meat of offer in the menu -a lot of lamb, sliced, diced, skewered and minced, but also beef, chicken and fish. Again we had a sharing platter, to try differnt dishes – succulent lamb chops, kebabs and chicken pieces with rice. Iranians serve rice with butter on top, which gives the dish a crispy topping.

The vegetarian menu inclues Fesjoone Kadoo Gerduie – pan friend butternut squash with a sweet and sour sauce made from ground walnuts and pomegranate puree. There is also Khorosht Bademjan – Fresh grilled tomato, onion paste, red sauce and unripe grape topped with fried filipion aubergine with a touch of smashed, fresh garlic.

Unusually the menu offers choices for people on the Keto diet as well as gluten free options (though not the bread). Rendezvous also has an extensive wine list.

Rendezvous are members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders 20% off food and drink between 5-8pm, Monday – Thursday and a complementary glass of wine with food Friday – Sunday.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

See also: Interview with Conrad Shawcross, designer of Chiswick’s new sculpture Enwrought Light

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