Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Jay Rayner’s writing masterclass at Brasserie Zedel in Piccadilly. A highly entertaining afternoon, Jay talked us through all of the methods and structural tips he uses to write his notoriously witty restaurant reviews. Amongst the invaluable advice he offered for column writing, the biggest take away from the writing class was the importance of telling a story through the article itself and keeping your reader at the engaged and at the forefront. I walked away inspired and ready to take on the challenge of improving my writing through all the techniques and tricks I had learned in his class.
I was thrilled when my good friend Emily invited me along to OSH, a new Uzbekistan restaurant hidden away off a side street in Knightsbridge, not only because I haven’t seen her in a while and it’s always a hoot when we meet up, but I could put my newfound writing knowledge to the test.
Now, if you ask most people in London what Uzbekistan food is like, you’re likely to hear crickets. There are hardly any Uzbekistan restaurants in London. You may have remembered when I ventured to Samarkand a few years ago in Fitzrovia – undoubtedly one of the prettiest restaurants I’ve been to with a great vodka bar that likely had a few of us drinking under the table like the Russians. Sadly though there just wasn’t enough delicious Plov in the world to keep the restaurant going and it shut down for various reasons, leaving London Uzebk-foodless.
Maybe the shortage of good Uzbek food in London boils down to the fact that Uzbekistan isn’t a wild holiday destination right now or London is simply saturated with global cuisine that it gets lost in the mix; whatever the reason, Uzbekistan cuisine is far and few between, which is why OSH is opening at an awesome time.
Exotic, hearty and full of flavour – Uzbek cuisine is just what the doctor ordered in this deep freeze we’re in, especially after the Beast from the East hit last week. We walk into the three-storey townhouse that OSH resides in, just a stone’s throw away from Harrod’s and are met with smiles from the energetic and ambitious staff, who evidently take great pride in warm hospitality. A charming cocktail bar sits on the ground floor – ideal for an aperitif from OSH’s cocktail menu that features a mix of contemporary concoctions and traditional yet bespoke creations.
I kick off with ‘The Silk Spritz’ handcrafted with Elix vodka, Italicus Roolio di Bergametto, Thai basil, kumquat, topped up with Martini vintage 2016 prosecco. Refreshing and mildly sweet, The Silk Spriz is reminiscent of a thirst-quenching drink I’d enjoy on a hot sweltering summer day spent poolside, which is a welcome thought in contrast to the bleak frigidness sweeping over London at the moment.Patricia, our very gracious and hospitable server, promptly brings over a few of her favourite dishes whilst we peruse the menu. The premise of the menu here at OSH is sharing plates, which I am generally a huge fan of as you get to sample more than you normally would with your typical 3 course meal. Luckily Emily is just as much, if not more, of a foodie as I am and we have similar tastes, so making a call on what to order is painless. Plump cherry tomatoes marinated for 24 hours in a sushi ginger sauce appears on our table. This sophisticated yet simple dish bursts with flavours, lingering in our mouths and leaving us wanting more. Who knew that pickled cherry tomatoes could taste so divine?A pretty bowl of tiger prawns glazed in a moderately spiced chilli sauce, topped with crispy sweet potato flakes appear on the table and we promptly dig in. These crunchy morsels of goodness are a flavour bomb that leaves you vying hopelessly for the last one.We swoon over two perfectly cooked Duck Shahliks, traditional Uzbekistan shish kebabs, marinated for 12 hours and cooked on the robata grill resulting in smokey, tender pieces of meat. A star of the show is oddly the warm aubergine salad: cubes of warm roasted aubergine tossed with salty feta cheese, delicately dressed in a coriander dressing, sprinkled with a handful of pine nuts. It’s a light, comforting non-meat dish that will take you by surprise in its simplicity and deliciousness.The miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is the only miss of our lunch. Overcooked and lacking in the ginger flavour it promises on the menu, it didn’t quite make the £26.60 price tag worth it. On the other hand, the Surimi roll with rabbit and truffle is inexplicably divine with seasoned ground rabbit wrapped up tightly into a thin surimi casing, topped with an aromatic truffle sauce. Decadent, and sinfully delicious, you’ll be rolling out of the restaurant happy.We came, we ate, we conquered, or so that is how it feels until dessert comes along with mint teas brewing in adorable personal teapots, ensuring the water to mint ratio is exact for the perfect taste, according to Patricia.
Emily and I attempt to polish off the two gorgeous cakes the staff very kindly bring to us, and finish chit chatting about how wowed we are by London’s newest Uzbekistan restaurant. The staff is warm, knowledgeable and clearly take great pride in the food they serve – as they should because it is brilliant. London’s is lucky to have a unique newbie on the dining scene and If I were you, I’d book a table post 15th March to try it out. It’s a great spot for romantic date and dinner with friends. Oh, and don’t forget to grab some fresh produce from Uzbekistan on your way out. A vibrant table filled with fresh fruit and desserts to take away is not to be missed! Emily and I say our farewells and agree to head on home, crack open a bottle of red and attempt to type up our reviews of OSH Jay Rayner style!
*A huge thank you to OSH for hosting us for a brilliant lunch and introducing us to delicious Uzbek cuisine!