London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Monday, April 9, 2012



Camden's Gilgamesh has a great reputation for excellent food, sparkling atmosphere and being a popular celebrity hang-out, so expectations were high for our visit. (Sometimes expectations can leave you disappointed if a venue fails to live up to the hype, but we had to find out what all the fuss was about.)

We highly recommend the chef's 'smoking' selection of sashimi
Headed by legendary chef Ian Pengelley, the promise of the food certainly had us salivating. The first thing that struck us however, was the dramatic appearance of both the interior and exterior. From the outside, the modern glass and chrome building looms large in the heart of Stables Market, but inside the furnishings are all heavy, dark wood with exotic trees instantly transporting us to South East Asia.

We kicked off our meal with the chef's selection
of sashimi - six pieces of exquisite raw fish presented above a bowl of rolling dry ice; food theatre at its best drawing gasps from around the able. The platter consisted of salmon, tuna and kingfish, each slice was silky and delicate and melted on the tongue. The sashimi was accompanied by a Mr Chang sushi roll, an excellent recommendation from our waiter, consisting of deep fried prawn tempura with spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce wrapped up in a soft rice roll. It was firm to the bite and has a very slight piquant kick to it.

Our palates sufficiently whetted, we ordered our main courses, consisting of six smaller sharing dishes. The crispy squid is unbelievably delicious, the dusting of chilli, garlic and spring onion making it very flavourful and comparable to the very best we've had. But if we thought was good, we were blown away by the duck spring rolls. The fried crispy outer contained hot shredded duck and raw cucumber - the science of cooking the duck but not the salad left us scratching our heads, we have no idea how it's done, but it's typical of the attention to detail at Gilgamesh.

Next up were the Dim Sum dishes; pan fried chicken gyoza and scallop siu mai: an open top steamed dumpling consisting of a prawn layer topped with a scallop wrapped in delicate dumpling casing. Both dim sum dishes were meatier than expected with both the chicken and the prawn being instantly recognisable to the palate, rather than the over-mashed paste that can sometimes pass for dim sum fillings in less sophisticated restaurants. The highlights kept coming though, with a personal favourite being the prawn tempura, giant lobster-sized prawns coated in light crispy batter.

The restaurant is vast with plenty of seating areas to choose from
Finally, the last part of the main course was a house special, the duck and watermelon salad. A very large portion of shredded crispy duck served over mountains of juicy red watermelon with mint, basil and cashew nuts. The melon certainly made us feel as though it must be healthy, but something that tastes as amazing as this can't be as good for you as you would expect!

Gilgamesh is not a cheap restaurant, but it is good value. It's the perfect place for a 'special occasion' meal, for a birthday, a celebration, or if you really want to impress your date. The service is as exemplary as the food, at no point did we have to wait long to be served. Our waiter was friendly, attentive and very well informed, making some very welcome recommendations. London has a large number of premier league class restaurants and Gilgamesh is right at the very top of this group. The original Gilgamesh was an ancient Asian king of legend, part man and part god and this modern interpretation certainly left us feeling a little closer to heaven.

The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH

Average price for main meal: £30 (based on 4 sharing plates)
Average price for a glass of wine: £6
Food/Drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5


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