Navruz opened last year and stood out from the usual restaurants and take-away eateries scattered around the Cricklewood/Kilburn area. Always on the lookout for a restaurant with quality food for a decent price, I’d been eyeing up the restaurant for a while, we just never managed to get round to visiting. When the weather started warming up and our schedules freed up, we finally took the plunge.
We entered the restaurant a little surprised at how empty and cold the place felt. There was no one to greet us at the entrance, for a Sunday evening, this didn’t phase us too much. Instead we ventured towards the bar and were greeted with a confused look from the barman. A waiter finally managed to usher us to a seat and informed us that only the Indian/Pakistani part of the menu was available with no reasoning why or no explanation as to which part of the menu he was referring to. Instead we guessed and were a little confused as to why a restaurant serving central Asian flavours such as Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan foods, were all off the menu.
From the website, the restaurant prided itself on its mocktails (alcohol free cocktails). Unfortunately we weren’t given a drinks menu and instead had to ask for one, which then turned out to be a standard menu without any cocktails apart from a virgin mojito.
After confirming with the waiter which side of the menu we could order from, we ordered a few dishes. The waiter took our order and we waited for around 30-45 minutes for the food to arrive. Luckily we had poppadoms to snack on. Not one word of an apology until our food arrived and came a little similar to ‘sorry the food took so long, the mixed starter you ordered, the chef has to prepare and takes a little longer’. Myself and the OH are happy to wait for food, but couldn’t understand why they failed to mention this when we ordered.
The food arrived all at once, starters, main courses and rice and we were overwhelmed by the amount of food ordered and a little annoyed at the waiter for failing to mention how big the Navruz Mixed Grill starter was. It was a starter enough easily enough for 4-6 people.
The mixed grill starter ranged from tandoori chicken to lamb shish and was well cooked, moist and flavoursome, however, the rice served alongside was unnecessary, especially as this was supposedly a starter.
We decided to order an extra main course and since we had a delightful chickpea dish at Gymkhana, were in the mood for a vegetarian dish to go with the meat offerings we picked.
The chana masala lightly spiced but not overpowering lifted the chickpeas and was a pleasant dish overall.
The OH picked chicken jalfrezi for his main. Again the chicken was still moist and juicy and the vegetables tasted fresh and succulent. The jalfrezi sauce was also well-balanced with subtle spicing.
My main course of choice was a keema (typically lamb mince) dish, opting for something a little different from what I usually would order. The keema had been cooked well without any fatty bits and was a little spicier than the jalfrezi with the curry sauce being incredibly more-ish.
My only complaint with each main course was that each dish was served with a large bowl of boiled rice. Added to the rice served with the starter, we were overwhelmed by rice.
Now the food itself wasn’t terrible, in fact we actually enjoyed the traditional dishes served. However, the evening felt incredibly uncomfortable, being watched whilst we’re eating, lack of communication, no warmth from our servers and overall felt as though we were intruding.
The nail on the coffin, was when we asked for a ‘doggy bag’ to take half of the food home. Instead of clearing our table and packing our remaining food, the waiter disappeared and then reappeared, dumping disposable containers onto the table. We were also charged double for the mixed grill starter as there was a similar named starter elsewhere on the menu. We obviously noted this to the waiter and surprisingly the issue was rectified without any major hiccup. This was the smoothest event of the evening along with service charge being excluded from our bill.
I’m not sure whether I’ve been spoiled, but I’ve never had such cold, disinterested service in all my dining years. The highlight of the evening was leaving. The food isn’t bad, but the terrible service far outweighed any positives. If you really do want to try the food at Navruz, I highly recommend you ask whether they offer take-away.
– Navruz, Cricklewood