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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Toranj - an eatery to warm the cockles this autumn

Chicken in Saffron Broth

Toranj is your archetypal ‘hidden gem’; so much so that when I visit with a bunch of female foodie friends we are a little embarrassed at only just discovering its existence. This Persian eatery is in a basement location in Leopold Place with some outside areas for the brave and hardy and those who wish to partake in Shisha.

We have a booking for 7 pm and the restaurant soon fills up. It’s the perfect place for groups as the menu facilitates the sharing and tasting of a variety of dishes. It's also BYOB which is a boon in a cost-of-living crisis.

So for starters, we share Houmous, Fattoush, and Baba Ganoush with blistered Lebanese naan. I particularly like the houmous which is Tahini-heavy and has a satisfying mealy texture. The salad meanwhile benefits from a good dousing of lemon juice.

I have to confess that I am a little prejudiced against chicken in restaurants as it often has an unpleasant slimy texture and then there’s also Anthony Bourdain’s comments from Kitchen Confidential bouncing around my head: “And chicken is boring. Chefs see it as a menu item for people who don’t know what they want to eat.”

All meat and poultry is Halal and the strictures around its slaughter, production, and handling means that the meat is free from additives. My Traditional Chicken Stew comprises breast and thigh in a bath of fragrant Saffron broth. The meat has substantive texture and flavour and is served with expertly cooked rice where all the grains are separated and pistachios, almonds, and tart crimson barberries form the garnish. There is also a good selection of kebabs from the grill, meat, fish, and vegetarian.

For desserts, we boldly order “one of everything chef!”

When they arrive, I take my eye off a board of sticky powdered Turkish Delight for a minute and they are gone in a flash. I bag just half of a blackcurrant-flavored sweet. There is also moist, freshly rolled Baclava, Saffron ice cream, Rose ice cream, and a pot of mint tea.

Toranj is an earthy, warm restaurant, softly lit and perfect for a ‘warm the cockles’ Autumn experience. (S. Wilson)

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