Darvish – Always Good

After two years of unsettling times for restaurants, I decided it was time to visit an old favourite. It is good to write about new ventures – it is sad to see some no longer exist, whilst some seem unchanged. So it was, when I visited Darvish Persian restaurant in Harehills. The décor had not changed, the same friendly staff welcomed me and the food was as comforting as ever.

Darvish was originally called a tea house, but after a refurbishment about five years ago it took the title of fully fledged restaurant. The décor has a Middle Eastern feel with coloured glass lampshades, rich red fabrics and tables covered with a Paisley type design. Paisley might make you think of Scotland but the ‘boteh’ Paisley design originally comes from Iran and Northern India. Some might find the plastic table coverings that protect the patterned tabletops off-putting. Personally, I find it reassuring, easier to clean than wooden tables and better for the environment than table cloths.

We began our meal with portions of Falafel and Kashke Badjemnan, aubergine dip, to share. This was the first time I had tried their falafel. They were crisp on the outside but pleasantly moist and flakey inside. They were served with a very good homemade chilli sauce, a bit of kick and plenty of flavour. The aubergine dip I always order. This is not the only aubergine dip on the menu, so sometimes I order both. The Kashke Bademjam is my favourite; the walnuts seem to elevate this above other dips.

Both starters were served with naan bread. This is the only place where I could eat naan bread by itself. The breads are large, light and delicious. Much thinner than those you will have savoured in local Asian eateries, they seem to almost melt in the mouth. They are served scorching hot, peeled from the oven as you are ready to eat. Their bread making is a fine art.

With our food, we drank a bottle of red wine we had brought with us. There is a £3 corkage charge for alcohol in this unlicensed premises. There is a good selection of soft drinks, including doogh, a refreshing traditional yoghurt and mint drink. Tables are also served jugs of fresh water.

We could smell our mains before we saw or tasted them. Much of the cooking takes place in an open-fronted grill area at one end of the restaurant. A lot of preparation, including salad construction and meat grilling, happens in front of you. Hygiene and Covid awareness seemed to be good.

I ordered a Deezi Makhsoos Darvish. A traditional stew, Deezi is the name of the dish it is cooked in as well as the menu option. Deezi is also sometimes known as aabgoosht, which literally means water meat. When the dish was served at our table the cooking juices were poured from the Deezi pot and chef Alireza then mashed the tender lamb, beans and potato into a soft hash. The sauce is then served separately alongside another of their stunning naans.

Deezi Pot

My companion went for the Makhsoos Kebab, a skewer of chicken fillet and a skewer of kebab koubideh. This can be served with saffron rice or naan. There is a limit to how much naan even I can eat, so he went for the rice, which was a portion big enough for us to share. The chicken was succulent, still juicy, perfectly white on the inside and nicely charred on the outside. The koubideh was well seasoned and also moist. The saffron rice was buttery but the grains separated well. The chefs here are good at knowing exactly the right point at which to stop cooking.

This small restaurant has attracted some famous visitors over the years. Jamie Oliver has added an endorsement to their menu. There are photos on their website of Jamie Oliver, Phil Jupitus and Keith Lemon dining at Darvish.

There is only one review on the restaurant’s website. Here is what it says.

I have always been fond of this restaurant but a recent refurbishment has made it even better. The naan bread is still the best in Leeds, the aubergine dips are great, the kebabs are tender and there is a good selection of stews.

– DEBBIE R

Yep, that is me, although I had been unaware until I went to write this review. It was written a long time before I began officially reviewing restaurants. Nice to know your TripAdvisor comments are valued. I still stand by every word written here. Do give Darvish a try, and whatever you order, make sure it comes with naan bread.

At less than £40 for the two meals and corkage, it is also very good value.

Darvish – Roundhay Road, Leeds LS8 4HS http://www.darvishleeds.co.uk

Photography(excluding main image) by Debbie Rolls.

Debbie Rolls

Debbie's interests are in folk music and jazz, theatre and food, as well as the natural environment and Leeds' history.

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