- Food & Drink
Don’t you just hate it when famous restaurant reviewers go to your favourite restaurant, give it a positive review and thereby ensure you’ll never be able to get a table there ever again? Alerted to Jay Rayner’s review by @londoneating on twitter, I immediately panicked about my Wednesday night dinner plans, texted Sister Number 1 and demanded she book a table because the whole place would be overwhelmed by Observer readers within hours.
I needn’t have worried. It’s in Camberwell. There’s no tube. Observer readers are lazy. Silk Road was busy last night but a table for 6 wouldn’t have been impossible to get.
Walking in to Silk Road, I could smell the chilli. Within a couple of minutes I was sneezing pretty hard. Our entire table started the evening coughing and hacking and sweating just from breathing in the air. How the people in the kitchen manage, I don’t know. They must have asbestos faces.
Our airways suitably cleared, we ordered a lot of food. The cumin and chilli coated lamb kebabs each come with a chunk of lamb fat that you have to devour within minutes to get it at its melting hot best. We had 5 skewers, I managed to scoff 3 pieces of lamb fat. I am a greedy person.
The dumplings were being rolled out at the back of the restaurant when we arrived. We had beef and onion and lamb; the sweet, juicy lamb dumplings easily outclassing the beef dumplings. But, like the lamb fat, you have to eat them as soon as they arrive or they transform from light parcels of sweet meat to heavy, glutinous punches in the gut.
We did our best but we were distracted by the arrival of the big plate chicken. Now, this is the reason to come here. A huge bowl of chilli spiked broth with chunks of on-the-bone chicken and perfectly cooked potatoes bobbing about in it.
I am a fan of meals that involve slurping meat off the bone because it covers up my shocking lack of table manners and big plate chicken rewards my adoration by being heaven in a communal bowl. The broth tingles with chilli heat but manages to hang on to its aromatic flavourings and the big home-made noodles that arrive about 20 minutes later are a perfect bland sponge for swirling around and soaking up the broth. It was agreed that the only way it could be improved is by a round of straws at the end so we could slurp up the last drops.
We had shredded hot and sour potatoes and home-style aubergine as a sop to the semi-vegetarian in our group (there really isn’t much on offer for vegetarians). Stir-fried potatoes are a strange fetish of mine – they’re slightly crunchy, which you’d normally hate in potatoes but they have an irresistible lure for me. It could be the buttery, garlicky sauce. The aubergine was caramelised and tender and so far, it has converted 2 aubergine haters to the cause of aubergine, so it can only be a force for good.
The cost of this extravaganza? £56 (without service). £20 of that was beers. So that’s about £11 a head with tip. Why are you still sat here reading this review? Go now before those Observer readers get to grips with the bus timetables and keep you out of Silk Road’s light forever.