Saturday, 2 May 2009


Et voilà, my main course of Beshbarmak.


Came here for dinner with three wonderful companions. The MsMarmitelover and two ladies from
Randomness Guide to London. -Peckham's wonderful Laura and at long last, I finally get to meet the ace Kake.
I first read about this Kazakh restaurant in the horrible londonpaper. Well let's just say folks I've done you lot a favour by coming here, I wouldn't bother if I were you for it was poor and pathetic. Words escape me that I can't even write about it constructively. Please bear in mind these are my views and I daresay the ladies will post their own reports soon. After the woeful experience I’ve started to take Borat seriously.

The restaurant proper on the uppermost floor of Phibbers

Our table with the topchan (tea bed) seating, all very novel but 'pins and needles' inducing.

Bread basket of Kingsmill, Hovis and baursaki.
baursaki or Kazakh fried dough bread is the only decent food worth its salt tonight!

Aubergine Salad of some sort.
To be fair the 'shopped' photo looks a more attractive than it actually was. This dish reminded me of ready made dips in a jar to go with the tortilla chips, but only less tasty.

Some kind of vodka drowned pickles and salad.
We all agreed the strange tasting tomatoes had some 57 varieties zapped into them, they reminisced of Heinz tomato ketchup. With hindsight I found this dish yuck!

"Russian style" herrings
Very salty and no vinegar to taste of.

Fried pastry with minced meat- it was so memorable that I'd forgotten what it tasted like!

Laura's Plof
Pilaff rice with lamb things. Probably the only palatable mains out of the four. By now I've come to accept that presentation is not Dastarkhan's strongest point.

MsMarmite's veggie manatee manti dumplings
Clumsy and pointless come to mind, £7.50 for the above can only suggest that we've been had!

Kake's Manti "Dastarkhan"
Traditionally steamed dumplings with meat and onion- by now I’ve decided these dumplings tasted traditionally bland. Let’s not even mention Leong’s Legends, these mantis made the Polish pierogis totally esoteric.

Only one good thing amounted from the evening and that was the company of the three wonderful ladies. We hope to converge again.

Phibbers Bar

203 Holloway Road
N7 8DL


thora said...

I love the drawing! will show this to my German-born-in-Kazakhstan-colleague and make him bring some authentic Kazakh food to work.

kerstin said...

I hate to slag off a restaurant which is clearly popular with kazahkstanis, where the service was cheery and helpful, but the food really was atrocious.
Or maybe it's a cultural thing?

Helen said...

I know nothing about the food of Kazahkstan but I cannot imagine this is a good representation of it. It looks foul!

Hollow Legs said...

Eurgh - it sounds (and looks) awful. Expensive too!

Su-Lin said...

That's really expensive for what you got! Wow...

bellaphon said...

Ladies- To be fair I think it's the cultural thing, somehow I haven't got to grasp with the Kazakh cuisine and probably never will. Bring on Inuit cuisine!

Kake said...

I think that's a fair enough writeup. I'm a bit behind but may get to mine today... possibly.

Now you mention the "dip in a jar" comparison re the aubergine salad, I wonder if it actually did come from a (catering-sized) jar — it was very similar to a jar of aubergine/pepper salad that I bought from our local Turkish supermarket recently.

I didn't really mind the herrings being cured in salt rather than vinegar, and I thought that underneath the salt they had good texture and flavour — but they were too salty for my taste too.

Oh, and also, I only realised afterwards that we should probably have had some sour cream with the manti. I guess it went the same way as the grilled vegetables that never turned up.

Kake said...

And... RGLed. I linked to a couple of your photos from the page, and also of course to your review.

A bit of Googling suggested that there have been a few restaurant ventures on the second floor of Phibbers. I do wonder how long this one will last.

bellaphon said...

Kake- Thanks for the link up. I can't help but think that we've also been 'phibbed'.

Anonymous said...

John: I've been there with my friends and it was perfect waiting and food. I liked manti "Dastarkhan" I've never tried it before it very delicious an they served excellent alwas with a smile. It was dificult to find this restaurant. I want to visit it again but now it is easy to find them :)

bellaphon said...

Hi Anon or John (it's certainly not me!), thanks for your comments. Glad you loved the place however if I'm ever going to sample another manti, it'll be in Almaty and not London. Happy eating.

Anonymous said...

Guys just to let you know that Dastarkhan has a new chef now and she is great, we had a corporate party there few weeks ago and everything was perfect, I loved the place, the food and entertainment! well done Kazakhs :)

bellaphon said...

Anon- Thanks for stopping by. I suppose I ought to put my differences aside and try this place out again. A few of my clients are Kazakhs, I might drag one of them along!

My review of Dastarkhan, London's only Kazakh restaurant said...

Guys, I have to concur with you on this. It was one of the biggest flops in my dining experience. We had almost identical experiences with every dish you described, so at least consistency is defo Dastarkhan's virtue.

bellaphon said...

Magic Russki- Good insightful review, thank you for stopping by.

KS said...

I am from kazkahstna and have never been to thsi restaurant but was curious about the reviewes before I hed off there. I woudl not comment about the taste, obviously, and it may indeed be a cultural thing, but I can assure you that there is no way back hom in kazakhstna I would put up with the presentation and qaulity of ingredients the pictures imply.

Thanks for sharign in any case!

bellaphon said...

KS- What a lovely surprise to have you gracing the comment page. I daresay you're right about Dastarkhan not making a facsimile of the food back in Kazakhstan. I've a current fixation with your country at the moment, Almaty is on my 'to visit' list.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm kazakh as well and I can agree with previous comment that the presentation of food and described taste is nothing like our traditional food. I feel actually sorry for this place and people who had a not very nice experience. I'm sure the people who run this place not even from KZ, cause we are very carefull abou the food and our guests......
so it's a shame really...