Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Kazan but all of my wandering musings and admiration for beautifully slow-cooked lamb are only ever my own...
A couple of months ago searching out a few personal Turkish restaurant recommendations from the coterie of food bloggers that gather around London's tables, there was one restaurant that came up again and again - Kazan in Victoria.
Having already visited and enjoyed ourselves there on several Christmas shindigs, a double date (introducing friends and husbands are delicate procedures sometimes and require honey-drenched Filo) and a few naughtily long lunchtimes, when a few of the #LondonLuxMassive and I (the token antipodean - I hear no dining group is complete without at least one, two is the ideal number) we knew that Kazan is delicious. It was pretty difficult to conceal my delight when an email landed in my inbox inviting a couple of champagne-quaffing, CSS-chatting Londoners (plus me, see above) back over the threshold for a autumnal treat.
^ ps. follow this boy for delicious instagrams around London with a soupcon of luxury... ^
I have it on good authority that Kazan is a Turkish verb meaning 'to win' and settling in after a rosy-cheeked prance through the Royal Parks, the relaxed smiles as we relaxed back into an evening of chatter said far more than we managed over a couple of hours baring our hearts and laughing over social media shenanigans.
It's no word of blogger stylin' when I say that telling my Mr Kiwi afterwards that we began with the mixed platters, he was severely envious and sulmutaneously hungry, that's how good they are. One mixed mezze platter with grilled halloumi, Humus Kavurma, Borek, Sucuk, Falafel, Tabbouleh, Kisir, Baba Ganoush, Manca Beetroot Dip, Falafel, Baba Ganoush, Manca and Beetroot Dip quickly disappeared whilst we also decimated a beautifully presented Seafood Mezze Platter. Housing Smoked Salmon, Crispy Baby Calamari, Fish Kofte, Deep Fried Prawn, Tabbouleh, Humus, Kisir,Baba Ganoush, Manca, Beetroot Dip and Tarama. We went in forks first and honestly couldn't fault the collection of deliciousnesses or presentation.
Pouring undecidedly over the menus, our mains all varied in proper blogger style, but as usual try as I might, I couldn't resist the usual siren call of the Hunkar Begendi (Sultan’s Delight), an Ottoman dish of softly stewed spiced lamb on a bed of aubergine mash. There are no pretentious foams, no micro herbs grown in darkness, no disassembled classics - simply beautifully cooked Turkish and Ottoman dished that have stood the test of time.
The rest of the menu conjures exotic evenings with a drift of spice in the air; ladies thighs (Kadinbudu Kofte), drunken calamari, Pomegranate & Chili Glazed Wings, naked burgers, swooning Imams (Imam Bayildi) and simply delicious desserts that knock the socks off of any Turkish restaurant I've been to - and that includes a recent visit to Munich where there was an entire street of Turkish restaurants.
I went a little off my usual piste and tried the dried apricots stuffed with clotted cream and walnuts, rolled in pistachios for a light yet sumptious dessert, and only had a little envy at the beautiful baklava and Syllabub that was enjoyed around the rest of the table. I may have swiped a little when they weren't looking, but that's what good friends are for, right?
The restaurant itself is moodily lit temple to the Ottoman empire; perfect for a midweek treat, a family catch-up, a gaggle of giggling bloggers, a romantic canoodle (maybe once you've been with each other for a while and garlic comes back on the menu). It's such a relaxed treat that we love revisiting time after time.
Now, I can't tell you what Angie, Aftab and Mina thought of the evening - but luckily they can with far better images than I.