Wowcher Does Baku, Knightsbridge

Image courtesy of Evelyn Rose Worman

In the search for deliciousness we decided to pay a visit to the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence-winning Baku restaurant in Knightsbridge. We certainly weren’t disappointed by what we found…

Azeri cuisine. I’ll be honest, up until last week I’d never heard of it. Yet here was a dinner menu promising some pretty punchy flavours: starters of yoghurt-spiced quail breast and scallops with cauliflower and cumin puree, mains of West Country beef tikka and steamed Cornish sea bass, plus curious dishes like seasonal baked gutab nuzzled against sweet pickled sour cream. That was enough. Next stop I was on a bus heading straight to the source – alas, not via Heathrow Terminal 5, but to London’s trendy SW1.

Yoghurt-spiced quail breast with confit leg served on a bed of sautéed spinach, carrot and cardamom puree

Baku, the restaurant named after Azerbaijan’s capital city, is housed on the third floor of a fairly inconspicuous building on Sloane Street – a stone’s throw from Harvey Nichols. The interiors, I find, feel more French than Azerbaijani. Light walls and distressed mirrors are offset by suited waiters carrying brightly-coloured dishes, making a refreshing backdrop to the various bursts of oranges, greens, purples and reds. I order the yoghurt-spiced quail breast with confit leg served on a bed of sautéed spinach, carrot and cardamom puree to start. It doesn’t disappoint. Tender meat and perfectly seasoned veg transformed into a miniature piece of heaven; everything looks like a modernist art piece and tastes just as daring.

Steamed Cornish sea bass served with tomato couscous, caramelised shallot puree, salt fish puffs and xiyar salati

Steamed Cornish sea bass served with tomato couscous, caramelised shallot puree, salt fish puffs and xiyar salati

To counter the dark meat, I move onto fish. Things get heated: steamed Cornish sea bass comes out propped on tomato couscous (so pearly it glistens against the cutlery), awash with caramelised shallot puree, and garnished with salt fish puffs and “xiyar salati” – which I later learn is Azeri for salted cucumber. If MasterChef’s taught me one thing, it’s that duck and sea bass need cracking crispy skin – and Baku delivers. Everything else tastes summery, moist and fresh. And I still can’t get over the smooth texture of that couscous.

Image by Evelyn Worman

Image courtesy of Evelyn Rose Worman

Desserts are a sweet treat. Chocolate and passion fruit tarts pack a sharp punch against lavish smears of chocolate and lemon sorbet, coming out as two sliced pastry fingers scattered with welcome doses of bitter chocolate crisps. Also on the dessert menu are pineapple dolma with splashing coconut foam and mango ice cream, as well as raspberry yoghurt parfait – take your pick.

On the second floor of Baku you’ll find Spirit Level, a classic bar lounge setting ideal for an after dinner cocktail

Baku call themselves “one of the finest restaurant destinations in Knightsbridge” – and named after Azerbaijan’s capital city, they have a lot to live up to. But between you and me? I reckon they fly the flag with pride. Now to book a flight…

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