Bayswater is home to a number of great restaurants from various cuisines. Together with Alounak, Sadaf is one of the most highly-reputed Iranian restaurants in London.
Note: All the meat here is halal.
I’ve been here on one occasion so far, and have tried the spicy chicken wings, the lamb shank, and the lamb biryani. Our chicken wings were a little undercooked, but despite this, they remained tender and flavoursome, and offered a good opening line for the mains.
I can only assume the chef had heard of my eating habits through the grapevine, as the lamb shank that came was covered in a mountain of rice, caramelised onions and raisins. Unfortunately the Archaeologists were on annual leave, so I dug out the lamb shank myself. It was quite grateful to be saved from being buried alive, but less grateful when I proceeded to stick a fork into it. The lamb was tender and flavoursome, albeit a little dry towards the centre, whilst the soft rice and the caramelised onions complemented it well in flavour and texture. The raisins of course added small bursts of sweetness into the dish, though I would have liked the rice to have been a little more moist. The last lamb shank I had before this one was that at Ariana, and I would say the rice that accompanies Ariana’s lamb shank packs quite a bit more flavour and moisture. Nonetheless, Sadaf’s lamb shank is a satisfying (and certainly filling) dish.
I also tried (quite a large share) of my friend’s lamb biryani, which was a real winner. The biryani too came as a mammoth-sized portion – a colourful mixture of rice, lamb and an assortment of peppers, courgettes and parsley. The rice in the biryani was wonderfully moist, (more so than that in my lamb shank), and the lamb pieces were tender, well-cooked, and packed with flavour. The whole dish was a great mixture, and was pretty attractive to look at too. (I’m easily amused by colours – a sign of a potential LSD addict). Together, the rice, the lamb and the vegetables worked together in perfect harmony.
Value For Money: 4/5
Most main dishes range from £8-£12, and given the good quality of the food and the whale-sized portions, you can’t really complain when you get the bill.
Service is pleasant and warm here. The waiters are friendly and more than happy to cater to your requests.
Sadaf is a medium-sized restaurant and its decor is fairly adequate for a special occasion – though it does seem to be a little bit random. There’s an assortment of ornaments and features and I think the only thing that they’re missing is the giant white dog statue from the set of “Friends”. One thing to note is that this place and the line of other restaurants along Westbourne Grove are quite a walk away from Bayswater or Royal Oak station, so try not to eat yourself into a food coma, lest you need to be rolled along by your dining companions.
The atmosphere here is quite relaxed. Again we were the only ones in the restaurant at the time, (seriously, who is tipping restaurants off about the impending doom of my arrival?), so it was a little quiet. They had violin music playing in the background throughout the evening, (“Sad Romance” by Thao Xanh), which was relaxing initially and a little irritating after about 40 minutes of it on loop. Either way it’s quite a calm place to be, and the indoor waterfall is quite a nice feature. Though you can create the same serene sound of falling water at any other restaurant, by tipping your glass slowly over your dining companion.
Overall, Sadaf provides a comfortable dining experience with some great food, and if you’re a fan of Middle-Eastern (or more specifically), Iranian/Persian cuisine, this place should definitely be on your list of places to visit.
Address: 27 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, London W2 4UA
Telephone: 020 7243 8444