I was a little apprehensive to return to Mahdi, mainly because of all the places I had eaten at before and revisited recently, they have all let me down. Badly. What if Mahdi was to do the same to me. What if it had changed. What if had gone downhill. What if… I didn’t like it anymore.
I have eaten at Mahdi more than any other restaurant in London or anywhere. I mean we are talking at least once a month, sometimes a lot more, for at least 5 years maybe more. I mean we are talking well over a 100 times. I was nervous.
Back in 1998 we went to Asia for a while and when we came back we moved to Islington for a bit, then a year in Latin America followed, and again back to North London. This meant Mahdi became a thing of the past. But as we now both work in West London, I was hoping Mahdi would be visited more often. Not quite as much as before, but maybe I was hoping for too much.
My Mahdi sits on an interesting part of King Street in Hammersmith. It’s far enough away from the shopping arcade so it is a little quiet, but not too far that people don’t know it is there.
It’s on the other corner from the cinema, and like most restaurants in this area it caters to them a lot, although unlike the other ones, Mahdi has a steady following of fans, so it doesn’t need those cinema goers to survive.
Another restaurant we used to eat a lot in this area was the Green Chilli, a fantastic Indian that unfortunately could quite never break into the market, whilst serving great contempory Indian food it was always empty. I passed it the other week and saw a big wooden door in place. It was definitely closed and for good. This saddened me.
My Mahdi is a small family run restaurant and has grown over the years. When we first started eating there all those years ago, the service was slightly erratic, but the warmness of everyone made up for any shortcomings. The décor has changed from simple to slightly more artistic. Plus they have grown into the shop next door, which gives you more space. No more waiting for tables, and a better atmosphere.
The food is simple, well cooked, well priced, large portioned and fantastic. It’s mainly made up of grilled meats served with freshly baked bread, (the oven is by the door as you walk in, so you are hooked from the off) a simple salad and/or rice. It’s mostly lamb with some chicken thrown in as well for good measure.
They also have a good selection of Persian and Near Eastern stews as well. I think I’ve tried them all. I think. Oh well I will just have to start going through the menu again to make sure.
In winter I always steer clear of the cold starters, like in summer I do not even look at the hot ones. Their hummus whilst not having tahini in it, is one of the few things on the menu I never did like. I just prefer my own. Fussy like that.
But their baby lamb kebabs are what it all about. Juicy, seasoned perfectly, cooked to the point of OMG. Utterly good.
Over the years we have got into our own little habits there. I’m more a bread and rice fan where as Lina is more salad and a little bread. They serve a creamy yoghurt sauce, which Lina drizzles over her salad, where as I pop it on my kebabs. They also give you small sachets of butter. I never knew what you were supposed to do with them, but over time I have been mixing them in with my rice. Unxious is the word, and with a shake of the chilli powder it works a treat.
Before, when we were greedy guts we used to eat everything there and then, but as now we are maturing in years and have more control. (Can’t believe I just wrote that. Me, control. Never) We take at least half home for work the next day. Perfect. Plus as it is kinda on the route home from work, I have their number in my mobile, so we can order take away and have a feast at home. Just feel sorry for the other tube passengers.
I am truly a happy man, as entering Mahdi the other week was like coming home. It felt the same, it felt comfortable. It was as if we have never been away, the food was the same, the waiters who were there from before recognised us and welcomed us back. I was a happy man. We ordered the same as before. It was as I remembered it. The meat was tender and juicy, the bread was hot from the oven, the service as ever, friendly and warm. I was a happy diner.
I am back and Mahdi never changed. Hoorah for same same. I just wish the other places I used to love wouldn’t have changed. If only.