EAT: Gilgamesh, Camden, NW1

Champagne Cocktails!

Dinner in Pan-Asian splendour, followed by a drink at Amy’s local. About four years ago I went for Chinese New Year and my boyfriend’s birthday at Gilgamesh in Camden. It was seven shades of awful. Too loud, too tacky, service horrible, wine boring, food indescribably yuksome. I swore never to return.

And then lots and lots of people told me that I had simply had a bad experience, that I was being unfair, that I was in a distinct minority when it came to a restaurant that has continued to thrive since setting up shop in 2006. So last night I tried again and took my expert-in-all-things-oriental friend, Lisa.

Shanghai Dumpling

And how right those naysayers were. Granted, it’s still an overly ostentatious place, and it does attracta few Z list celebs, tourists, people on uncomfortable first dates, and the wine list is still really uninspired (it took me half an hour to choose a bottle of mediocre wine, it takes me less time to drink a bottle of wine).

However, we were seated in one of their cool circular booths that affords great views across the restaurant, the atmosphere on a soggy and horrible Thursday after the Jubilee was great, our waiter – though a little on the smary side – was still friendly and generous, and the cocktails weren’t brain-freezingly strong.

Soy Chicken

But the food. The food. YUM. I don’t know what I ate last time I went but it wasn’t this. It was delicious. We had soft shell crab sushi – which arrived as generous sizes white parcels, with soft shell crab claws sticking out of the middle; we followed this with three different types of dim sum – all bouncy and rich in flavour. For main courses we shared beef penang, which was good, if not extraordinary and the most amazing Soy Chicken, basically half a chicken marinaded and cooked in tea and soy sauce. Out of this world good. We finished with a perfectly collapsing and oozing chocolate fondant. It was fab.

Prices are really reasonable, too. Mains hover around the £15 mark. So all in all, I’d go back again. Who’d have thunk it?!

Beef Penang

Then we tottered out of there and had a drink in The Hawley Arms – all grotty and edgy and too cool for any school. A different beast from Gilgamesh, but a Camden treasure all the same.

More info about Gilgamesh here, and more info about The Hawley Arms here.