Restaurant review: Patogh

When my younger brother was a resident doctor at the Hammersmith, he used to arrive on Edgeware road on a Sunday evening, (after a weekend on being on duty) and order a dozen or so pieces of deep fried chicken from the HFC (Halal Fried Chicken). He would then sit in his car, windows up and listen to Radio 4 whilst he scoffed it down. On one such occasion, a scantily dressed woman tapped on the window to ask him if he would like a good time. He replied that he was already having one, but nonetheless thanked her for her concern.

I mention this because it has nothing to do with the Patogh restaurant except that it too is situated on Edgeware road, is halal and can also be enjoyed in a family friendly, windows up fashion. Much of the rest of Edgeware road cannot. It is the home (or more correctly the habitat) of the Edgware Road Arab, a species introduced to me by an Egyptian colleague who said that the road was the final destination of every secular sleazy Arab whose ill gotten wealth (looted from Muslim lands) allowed him residency in west London. These men can be seen lounging about the street, undressing passersby with their eyes and smoking. Nocturnally they retire to the Whitley center where they do sedentary laps of the ground floor. The giveaway is that as the sun sets, they remain unmoved.

Despite this, the Patogh restaurant remains so good an eating destination for religious Muslims, that it is worth the trip. So confident am I of its quality, that if one does not fully enjoy it then it reflects badly on the patron rather than the chef. The fare is Iranian and consists in large part of various combinations of freshly grilled meat, rice, freshly baked bread (which is outstanding) and lots of butter to aid digestion and ward of malnutrition (the constant fear of the inactive western Muslim activist).

It is not a place that one can take ones spouse, or intended spouse as no good can come from watching ones betrothed or recently married, eating like a horse (or the reverse). I once saw a large sister come in and sit down, and nonchalantly drag an entire table towards her and demand to be fed. That image still haunts me in my most vulnerable moments. If I ever find myself campaigning for public action on any topic, it will be that men and women eat privately from each other.

The premises are tiny, even smaller upstairs and bookings are essential. The quality of the fare and its price make a mockery of the sad self-flagellation that the locals in the UK mistake for a national diet.