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'I tried London's 'best' Iranian restaurant that charges £35 for a kebab and wish I'd gone to McDonald's'

MyLondon logo MyLondon 08/08/2022 Ertan Karpazli

I’d heard a lot about Iranian food before my visit to the Iran Restaurant in Shepherd Market, not far from Green Park station. I’d turned up with a pretty good appetite and rather high expectations after finding it was the highest rated Iranian restaurant in London.

As someone who loves both Turkish food and Indian food, I was sure I was in for a treat, as I have been told that Iranian food is heavily influenced by both cuisines. It’s also said to include dishes similar to those found in the Levant and Central Asia as well, so I was already licking my lips before even arriving at the restaurant.

With over 4,000 reviews on Google and a 4.6 star rating, I turned up full of excitement on the day of ‘Ashura’, one of the most special days celebrated in Iranian society. I hoped that that meant I’d be in for a little something extra in terms of getting a full-on Iranian experience.

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iran restaurant logo in green park © Ertan Karpazli / MyLondon iran restaurant logo in green park

Unfortunately I’d gotten a little ahead of myself and forgotten to check the prices at the restaurant before arriving. Considering the location, I was expecting their meals to be a little pricier than normal, but I was not expecting a complete tourist trap.

As a born and bred Londoner, I know the value of a kebab. I also know how much extra I’d need to pay to eat in a nice place with a bit of ambience. Likewise, I know a rip-off when I see one, and £35 for a kebab in a restaurant with old, broken, unclean tables is not exactly my money’s worth.

I arrived with three hungry guests who looked at the prices on the menu and all agreed we were better off going to a McDonalds. But at the same time, we didn’t want to seem rude, so we looked for the cheapest options on the menu to split between ourselves.

There was nothing to eat on the menu for less than £12.50, and they were just starters. For the same price as a hummus in the Iran Restaurant, I could’ve eaten a decent meal elsewhere. A simple orange juice, meanwhile, was £8.

Even an orange juice was £8 © Ertan Karpazli / MyLondon Even an orange juice was £8

Nonetheless we decided to order three starters to be shared between four people, plus one drink each. Even that was going to set us back a pretty penny, so when we were asked what we’d be having as a main course, we disappointedly had to say we wouldn’t be eating dinner there.

For what it’s worth, the three starters we ordered - dolma (stuffed vine leaves), ful mudammas (fava beans) and a chicken and egg salad - weren’t actually too bad. I’m sure if we had ordered a main course, we would have enjoyed that too, but not for the prices we’d be given.

Unsatisfied, my friends and I asked for the bill, which, service charge included, came to more than £70. Deducted, the bill was £63. That’s £63 for, quite frankly, not very much.

To add, while doing the calculations in my head, I figured out I’d been charged £4 more than what I should have. When I looked at my receipt, I then realised I’d literally been charged £4 for two pieces of naan bread, which in any other restaurant would have come with the starters for free.

After spending so much money, I left London’s so-called ‘best’ Iranian restaurant still hungry, and still unable to say that I’d actually eaten any Iranian food. That’ll be the last time I’m ever trusting Google ratings, that’s for sure.

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