The festive season is upon us, hooray! For many of us this means eating eating and more eating. If you’re looking for a venue for a special Xmas lunch/dinner Gilgamesh has the answer. Located in Stables Market in Camden, so it’s not the easiest place to find but worth it nonetheless! Not a turkey or roast potato in sight Gilgamesh offers a Pan-Asian 3 course set menu of eight dishes where you can choose between two main courses and two desserts. Yes eight dishes which is slightly overwhelming, but each of them unique in their own way. Gilgamesh prides itself on its use of fresh seasonal produce which really comes across in this meal. They have Chinese, Japanese and Korean chefs giving authenticity to many of the dishes. We ordered two set menus and two mocktails, so that we could get a taste of all the dishes available.
Lets start at the beginning. The decor definitely has that wow factor you want for a Xmas party venue or a fun good night out. Adorned with gold structures and palm trees, it’s a pretty unique set up. My friend and I were lucky enough to sit at what I think is the best table in the house, a round table with round cushioned sofa seating, and propped up higher than all the other tables for a really great view of the restaurant. There is a choice of five mocktails (£7 each) and a very extensive cocktail menu. We ordered the Aruka and Umbaba. The Aruka was a bit disappointing — described as apple juice, elderflower and vanilla it tasted like ginger instead of vanilla syrup. The Umbaba was much better, sweet and colourful made of mango, raspberry, strawberry and watermelon.
Broccoli with citrus dressing — If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I love tender stem broccoli! Served as a cold salad, the broccoli steamed to perfection and drizzled with a creamy but tangy sauce and a sprinkling of crunchy garlic — this was a great accompaniment to the hot starters.
Roasted scallop and avocado roll with tobiko — Think sushi but instead of rice, these little beauties were wrapped in cucumber to create a lighter starter. It was my first time having scallop in sushi and it didn’t disappoint. Of course the secret to good sushi is the freshness of the ingredients which made it so yummy. The combination of avocado, cucumber, roasted scallop and sweet orange caviar really hit the spot. A huge serving which we couldn’t finish because my friend doesn’t do sushi! More for me although knowing I had many dishes coming I had to hold off sadly.
Monkfish tempura with fish and citrus ponzo sauce — The best dish of the night for me! Delicate monkfish fried in the lightest of tempura batter, we finished these first. The salty lime sauce made a great dip, I could have eaten these all night. Seriously impressive.
Crispy black cod with rich mango sauce — Although my friend adored these as it was presented in vermicelli fried nests, it wasn’t my favourite dish. The sauce was refreshingly different, which I can only describe as mango mayo!
Slow roasted short ribs with bulgogi sauce — The only meat dish on the menu, this was a joint of beef ribs slow cooked in this amazing chilli sauce with a real kick, known as Korean bulgogi sauce. The meat was cooked really well and anybody who loves red meat will enjoy this. My friend who isn’t big on meat chose the other main course (seabass) and wasn’t impressed. But for me it worked perfectly as there is no other meat option so it’s more than enough to satisfy anyones carnivore cravings.
Steamed Chilean seabass with hijiki in a ginger and spring onion soy broth — Again a really fantastic dish, better than the beef option! When we first looked at the Xmas menu we were concerned that the two main course options were beef or seabass. Where was the chicken/duck? That is probably my main criticism of the menu, but this seabass was extraordinary. It’s a real fusion dish, the ingredients taken from Japanese cuisine but the cooking method authentic Chinese. Wrapped in banana leaf the seabass is steamed so it was so delicate and then put in a soy and ginger broth to soak up all the flavour. We quickly forgot about the absence of chicken!
Chopped Asian salad with goma & kizami wasabi dressing — This salad is available on the A’La carte menu and I would order it again. So fresh, colourful and crunchy with avocado, green beans, tomatoes and red cabbage with subtle wasabi hints there was a lot going on in this salad. Salad doesn’t really come better than this.
Wok fried lotus shoot, lily bulb, asparagus and tofu — Although a nice dish in its own right, the other dishes overshadowed this one and we weren’t able to eat much of it.
Jasmine Rice — Two types of rice come with the set menu. One plain and one cooked in soy with sweetcorn and other bits. I didn’t eat a lot of it I have to admit!
White chocolate and mint mousse with cranberry cake — At this point of course we were extremely full but there’s always room for dessert! The desserts are the only dishes that are slightly ‘Christmassy’ . Being a chocolate fiend, it would have been nice to have a chocolate option in the dessert but it fulfilled its job of something sweet after a large meal. Presented beautifully, but I couldn’t taste the mint and not being a fan of white chocolate it wasn’t hugely impressive.
Toasted coconut panna cotta with candied waterchestnuts and Thai basil — This was a tastier dessert for me, it was really creamy with desiccated coconut, served with a scattering of red candied waterchestnuts and green Thai basil, giving that fun festive feel.
Made from Italian coffee, I also had a much needed cappuccino which was a perfect end to this meal.
My only criticism of the Xmas menu is the lack of chicken either as a main course or perhaps one of the starters could have been poultry or game to give some more variety. As a halal diner, many of us look for the meat options. I also would have liked a chocolate dessert! However everything that is on the menu is superb, and I can’t fault Gilgamesh on the quality, freshness and presentation of all the plates.
Service was pretty flawless with our waitress Carmen, so passionate and knowledgable about all the dishes and really taking care of us. It was pretty quiet but that’s because it was a Monday night so we really did have her full attention! Weekends get busy, so booking in advance is essential.
Gilgamesh is pricey, but it is an awesome restaurant for a special occasion or night out with friends especially during the festive season. It certainly lived up to my expectations and I look forward to my next visit and trying the A’La Carte menu.
Halal Status: All meat halal as verified by management including dessert which doesn’t use animal fat. Alcohol Yes, Pork No.
Address: Gilgamesh Restaurant Bar & Lounge, The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH. Nearest tube Camden Town/Chalk Farm
Cost: ££££ The Xmas Menu is £55 per person, Veg Xmas Menu is also available at £45 (plus drinks and service). The Xmas menu is available throughout December.
Thank you to Gilgamesh for hosting our dinner for the purposes of this review.