My dining companion Aitch had randomly gone to an Indian restaurant in the Whitechapel Muslim Centre when I was waiting for her at a Turkish restaurant elsewhere. After I’d explained the situation, Baraka, the real destination, looked after me with knowing smiles, a pot of tea and warm bread while I awaited her second coming. This gave me time to check the extremely tempting menu and settle on my choices, writes Michael Holland
On her arrival our waitress convinced us to try the Turkish Kavaklidere Yakut Okuzgozu-Bogazkere, a full-bodied, fruity red that she knew would complement the dishes we had chosen. She was right. It was good – After just a few sips all was good in the world again. Cheers.
Only 3 weeks old, Baraka is tastefully designed; all gleaming and shining and it slots perfectly into a shiny new development in the City. Its open kitchen was a window to watching the chefs work over hot charcoal grills.
We shared starters. My choice was Karides Tava (Sautéed Prawns): plump shellfish in a tomato, garlic and spring onion sauce – Great for dipping the warm bread into. Aitch slid in from the left field with Ciger Tava (Lambs liver), which I think was the star of the show. Everything about it was good because it was obvious that the best liver had been used and cooked to perfection in sumac, red onion and parsley. So simple but so, so nice.
Being such a big space with a bar area, two outside areas as well as the restaurant, there was no need for staff to rush us for the table, so there was plenty of time to catch up on our various projects, and on football and films.
After a decent break our main courses arrived. Aitch had the Lamb Tagine, a mountain of lamb shank in a fruity prune, apricot and almond sauce. The meat fell away from the bone just by looking at it, thus succulent is the word for that dish.
I had lamb loin, diced and grilled on a bed of aubergine puree with accoutrements of tomato, chilli pepper and yogurt that added either hot, mild or sweet to each mouthful, which raised the dish up to more than my expectations. Those in the kitchen certainly knew how to cook meat.
We were now sated but the staff let us carry on blissfully chatting and drinking the wine until they knew we were ready for dessert.
Being adventurous, Aitch dived into the unknown with the Kazandibi (Caramelised mastic milk pudding). It landed on the table wobbling like a blancmange and was quickly declared a triumph. I, on the other hand, stayed safe with Chocolate Cake and ice cream. And of course it was delicious – it involved chocolate and ice cream!
Baraka is brand new and is growing fast because of its great food and a team that are very welcoming. Word of mouth will see to it becoming very popular very soon.
1, Unit 4 Finsbury Ave, Broadgate, London EC2M 2PF
barakarestaurant.co.uk – 020 3323 1234
Photos: M Holland