Arriving at Camden Town tube station I was giddy with excitement to see what all the fuss my friends had been making about Camden was about… Not least of all the hottest celeb London hangout – Gilgamesh.
I was lucky enough to be surprised by my other half with a weekend trip to London for our 2 year anniversary and slap bang in the middle of our 2 night trip was a VIP reservation at Gilgamesh to celebrate!
Walking over the bridge a little way up Chalk Farm Road you could be mistaken for thinking you are about to be ushered through corridors of incense, fake designer goods and falafel into the middle of a buzzing, heady, hippie market place… And you would be right – this is exactly what you should expect of the Stables Market.
As you enter this famous London market place you can’t help but imagine Amy and Blake trawling the vintage stores and scoring their next hit from the guy selling all the sterling silver jewellery.
Pass all that and the cobbles begin to open up to a tall temple style building with columns of fire either side of an escalator and a sharply dressed ”somebody” with a clipboard manning the entrance.
We announced ourselves, with that niggling fear of being told “you’re not on the list”, but were chirpily welcomed to make our ascent into the Gilgamesh Temple.
Coats on hangers, we were escorted to the Babylon VIP Lounge to start making our menu choices. Walking through the main restaurant and bar it was teeming with London’s glitterati, all in their Saturday night finest and all on edge checking everyone else on their internal fame-o-meter!
Finally we reached our table, in the far cosiest corner of the darkened, candle lit lounge, surrounded by sheer deep crimson drapes and hand carved wooden tables and walls.
If the far eastern spirit of the venue was a reflection on the food, we were in for a fragrant and spicy treat.
I had eyed the menu the night before but inconclusively needed another half an hour to make a decision… A perfect eastern mix of small plates, soups, dim sum and curries meant I was torn. In the end, forced by the politeness of our waitress who kept topping up our glasses with our gorgeously smooth bottle of Carmanere, I went for the Prawn Har Gau‚ a steamed prawn dumpling with garlic chives, presented in the miniature bamboo steamer. The prawns’ bodies were served still in-tact and were perfectly juicy and meaty, encased in their thin sticky dumpling skin. Three in the steamer made a good number for a trade: half a duck spring roll was mine!
For my entre, knowing I could steal some spicy beef Penang from across the table, I cautiously opted for the crispy Master Stock duck with fresh plum sauce and spicy salt, served with pancakes. When the duck came, I was surprised to see it was similar to that of a shredded duck dish in a good Chinese restaurant, although after one bite, I quickly realised the value. Perfectly succulent and bursting with flavour but with just enough stickiness, crispiness and coating of fresh plum sauce. Served up with seriously fresh strips of cucumber and spring onion and a side of Asian greens, this was so moorish I wanted to pick the plate up and lick it clean! But I didn’t – It’s a classy place!
Class aside however, our total bill including pre and post-dinner drinks, a good bottle of red, 2 starters, 2 mains and a side came to around £110, an absolute steal. Not only that but no longer had we leaned over the table for a quick smooch was our hostess coming over to brand us up with some wrist bands giving us free entry to the Gilgamesh club.
I was excited to eat at Gilgamesh and not only did it not disappoint, the atmosphere, decor, value and service completely exceeded my expectations. Although the food was simpler than I had imagined, Ian Pengelley has cleverly chosen some classic pan-Asian favourites and absolutely perfected them without too much fuss.
For more information, the full menu and bookings visit http://www.gilgameshbar.com