I HAVE a confession to make. I am already a Darvish devotee of many years standing.
But it’s just too darn good to keep a secret any longer.
This charming little eaterie on Roundhay Road - which calls itself a ‘tea house’ but offers so much more - wears its Persian heart on its sleeve, and on every inch of wall inside the small restaurant, which is covered with art and artefacts celebrating a proud many-millenia-old culture.
A small family enterprise, it’s been quietly doing its thing for almost a decade now.
I first visited in 2007, and have enjoyed several meals there since.
On this occasion, I took along a dining partner who was unacquainted with the simple joys of Iranian cuisine.
The food is certainly not for those used to ‘light dining’.
Heavy on grilled meats and flavoursome pates, pickles and salads, the menu - like the restaurant and its owners - has nothing pretentious about it.
In fact, by the way our menus were falling apart at the seams, it was obvious the offer at Darvish hasn’t changed since it started.
But then, why change a good thing?
Little Oliver popped in for an early-bird dinner on a midweek and found the small restaurant buzzing with a single large group who were there to celebrate a child’s birthday and were clearly loving it. During our short stop-off, another small group came in and asked for their ‘usual’, with the waiter smiling and nodding his head. Darvish is clearly a place that people love to visit again and again.
As this was an express visit, we asked if the food could be brought out as quick as possible and were not disappointed with the speedy service.
To start with, we opted to share the Mirza Ghasemi (£3.50). This vegetarian pate, made of mashed grilled aubergine, tomatoes garlic and spices, had real depth. Served with hot, fresh, crispy naan bread straight from the restaurant’s own clay oven, this was incredibly moreish,
As this was not my first visit, I deliberately went for something I’d not tried before for my main. As I was after a light meal - as light as possible in Persian terms - fish seemed a good option, although there’s not much of it on the menu. So I went for the Sabzi Polo Ba Mai (£8.50), which was advertised as salmon or sea bass served with herby rice. Unfortunately neither fish was available, but rainbow trout was offered instead. I have to say the dish was outstanding. The pan-fried trout was perfectly cooked and the fish just fell away from the bone. The accompanying herby rice, loaded with fresh dill and with every grain fluffy and beautifully cooked, was a stunning accompaniment. A real joy to eat.
My companion opted for a Chello Kebab Makhsoos (£8) a skewer of chicken fillet and a skewer of lamb kebab, served together with grilled tomatoes and saffron rice. The meat was very well cooked, the lamb slightly better so than the chicken, which was a tiny bit dry but still very tasty,
The service was impeccable and the food - at a total cost of just over £20 - an affordable and oft-repeatable treat.