Berenjak is billed as a reinterpretation of the hole in the wall ‘kabab’ houses lining the streets of Tehran and will take inspiration from founder and chef Kian Samyani’s Iranian upbringing. It will also draw on his cooking experience at a number of JKS Restaurants’ Indian restaurants including Brigadiers.
The restaurant will have an open kitchen that gives guests a full view of the chefs, who will cook mainly on tandoors, mangal-style barbecues and doner rotisseries.
In the dining area, exposed brick walls and polished concrete will contrast with stained glass windows, Persian carpets, Persian tiles and reclaimed marble tables. There will be a kitchen counter and some communal seating.
Most meals will start with Iranian 'mazeh', an assortment of punchy small plates including kashk e bademjoon (blackened aubergine with whey, walnuts and dried mint); ash e reshteh (Azerbaijani bean and noodle soup).
Main course dishes include various types of kebabs served with freshly baked bread; jigar (lamb’s liver, bergamot and lavash); koobideh (tender minced meat dish); and Persian-style (khoresht) stews including khoresht e karak, whole quail with aromatic barberries, saffron and lemon, and ghormeh sabzi, slow-cooked lamb shank with fenugreek, dried lime and kidney beans. Like Gymkhana, the kitchen at Berenjak will go big on game when in season.
The drinks offering will be centred around sharbat, a Persian drink made by combining fruit and flower sherbets with sparkling water. These can be finished with freshly picked herbs and guests can also opt to add their choice of alcohol. Other drinks options include doogh (curdled yoghurt and gin flavoured with lemon, sumac and honey).
A representative of JKS Restaurants - which is helmed by siblings Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina - says the price point will be more inline with Hoopers, the groups relatively casual and affordable Sri Lankan restaurant, than its more high-end restaurants. This will likely make for a spend per head of between £25 and £40.
“Most of my memories of growing up revolve around food, and in an Iranian family, the dishes of my parents’ homeland were always present on the dinner table,” says Samyani. “Spices, cooling dips and handfuls of herbs are the flavours of my childhood, so it’s great to be reinterpreting them in Soho. For me, it wouldn’t be an Iranian dinner without sitting elbow-to-elbow with friends and family, sharing each dish until every scrap has gone - I’m looking forward to recreating that at Berenjak.”