The setting immediately transfers us East. Gliding up the escalator to behold giant wooden sculptures and carved reliefs with bamboo plants dominating the dark wood interior and the newly refurbished retractable roof promising alfresco dining on warmer Camden days. We were warmly welcomed and walked by the bustling sushi station to our table. On venturing to the dark copper-clad bathrooms, you can sneak a peek at a whole range of private rooms, a nightclub and a lounge bar (Ginger Martini, anyone?). Comfy leather-clad booths dominate the window area with views over the Stables Market, while us voucher-bearing clients get to sit centre stage on dark oak tables with a slightly suspicious motif (if you squint sideways and cover certain parts...).
Gilgamesh's menu is quite extensive, offering dim sum, sushi, wok dishes and curries, and its pan-Asian theme is carefully selected for the set menu, a version of which we were offered. We started with cocktails which were fruity and icy, though on checking the drinks menu there were many classics and much champagne as well as an extensive wine list. Which of course we delved into soon after. To start I ordered the crispy chicken wings with a kimchi glaze and crispy garlic, served with a thick sweet chilli sauce. This was delicious. I couldn't resist using my fingers and gnawing on the bones (luckily they had anticipated this and there was a finger bowl at the ready). Himself ordered crispy baby squid with a teensy amount of sweet soy sauce. Again, delicious, the tempura batter was crispy and the squid, which was served in its entirety (therefore not for the squeamish), was tender and tasty.
|Cocktails; chicken wings; baby squid|
a tentacle of baby squid; seafood jungle curry; spatchcock chicken in miso sauce.
We were less blown away by the main course. A choice of four - seafood jungle curry and baby spatchcock chicken with miso dressing won out. I was tempted by the beef bulgogi - spicy boneless ribs - something I've never tried, but wanted to gauge the place on how good their curry is. And the jungle curry was like a thick Thai green curry. Plenty of seafood, calamari, prawns, and even a scallop, as well as some random lychees to sweeten it up. The chicken with miso tasted a little bland and unexciting, and even the extra noodles we ordered couldn't liven it up.
Dessert was beautiful. In appearance only. They were beautifully presented but tasted gloopy and lacked any flavour. Another table had a chocolate brownie - always a good choice - but our cheesecake with lime sorbet and yuzu tarts were, well, disappointing to say the least.
Gilgamesh has a reputation to uphold. And I'm sure it does in many senses, but if you go for the food, prepare to be a little underwhelmed. The decor and location (and potential celeb clientele) is the real draw, I believe. You could, in theory, have a similar dish from one of Camden's market stalls of a percentage of the cost you pay here. But it's worth a visit just to see what all the fuss is about. So go along and dine in a Babylon-esqe palace with whatever vouchers you can find, but I wouldn't wish to pay full price for the food. Choose carefully.
The Stables Market
Chalk Farm Road
Meal for two (with voucher) and drinks ~£100