Samarkand, London’s ultimate Uzbekistan restaurant, is not your run-of-the-mill spot in this city’s culinary scene. The inspiration comes from the name itself as Samarkand happens to be a city found along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan. The menu features traditional dishes from Uzbekistan with a modern twist and while the food is superb, the vodka collection may just be one of the best in London. I had the chance to try out the extensive collection filled with more than 45 luxury varieties at a special cocktail evening they were hosting and I was truly impressed with the entire restaurant and bar.
Samarkand is located just off Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. It’s not the easiest to find, but I think that adds to the allure of the restaurant itself. Once you find the door, and head down the stairs, you will walk into a breathtaking dining room filled with dramatic chandeliers, plush booths, a beautiful open plan kitchen and gorgeous gold and teal accents. The interior design is inspired by the many different cultures you would experience if you were travelling on the Silk Road. It’s truly one of the most stunning restaurants I’ve been to in London.
We headed to a separate bar area and was met with a beautiful illuminated vodka cabinet that I couldn’t quite keep my eyes off. Pretty crystal decanters filled with an array of infused vodkas – everything from coffee to Bergamot to Duck Fat, sitting in an illuminated rose gold shelf. Interior Goals…
We took our seats whilst the expert barmen crafted our welcome cocktails.
While I am more of a wine or beer person, I do love a good cocktail and vodka is hands down my spirit of choice. Our welcome cocktails were a stiff mix of Tuaca and Vodka – the perfect post-work libation when you need more of a strong one. Whilst we sipped on our drinks, the head bartender talked us through the history of the Silk Road, which lies between China and the Mediterranean. Samarkand was once one of the greatest cities in the World and at the forefront of science, medicine and astronomy. Vodka is a staple in Uzbekistan culture and goes with every single meal. Why is this? Because the vodka downing Russians had invaded and dominated Uzbekistan for more than a century, thus leaving their mark in the form of alcohol.
After our intriguing history lesson, we sampled some out of this world Uzbekistan cuisine paired with a few different vodkas. The above was the slow cooked beef short rib with pomegranates, fried noodles, and egg. The meat melted in your mouth and the fried noodles were addicting. We all went back for seconds and thirds.
We also sampled these scrumptious traditional Uzbek hand-made dumplings filled with beef and lamb or pumpkin with a marinara dipping sauce. These little parcels were bursting with flavour – the perfect snack to have while drinking.
We all had a chance to sample an infused vodka of our choice, which was a real treat. Some of these vodkas have been infused for months.
I went for the coffee-infused vodka served in pretty navy and gold teacups. Samarkand primarily serves high end vodka, making it incredibly smooth and goes down a treat. You won’t find any head-ache inducing vodkas here.
Samarkand stocks some of the hardest-to-find vodkas in London. I sampled the “Holy Grass,” one of the rarest and most difficult vodkas to find. The vodka is infused with an unsual botanical called Holy Grass that was discovered on the banks of the Thurso River. The grass has a sweet, vanilla taste and although the vodka served straight definitely had a sharpness, it was softened by the sweet taste of the grass. The vodka was so pure, we all agreed we could drink a cup of it straight.
Our time exploring the immense vodka collection and learning all about the different kinds began to came to a close, but not without a parting cocktail for the road.
A gorgeous Berry Shampanski, filled with a sweet, sugary foam and fresh berries, which was well-received by all.
I fell in love with Samarkand, the decor, the staff, the drinks and the food are all superb. The barmen are incredibly passionate and knowledgable. The talent is evident and it was a delight to listen to their stories and hear about the history of how vodka evolved. I think they are on to some great things in the bar world and I’m excited to see what’s in store for them next.
As for the food, I only got a mere snapshot, but a great one at that. I can’t wait to come back and have dinner. If the food I did try was any indication of what the rest of the menu is like, I reckon it’ll be fantastic.
If you’re a big vodka fan, head to Samarkand to sample some of the best in one of the most beautiful restaurants in London. Cheers!
Samarkand | 33 Charlotte St | London | W1T 1RR | Book Now