Din Din Cafe – Home Cooking Persian Style:
Walking into Vida Tayebi’s recently opened Cafe Din Din, my first impression is mixed. Squeakily clean, vibrant colours and shelves stocked with little pots. It looks a bit like Itsu or Pret. There’s more space to sit and eat, but it’s obvious this is somewhere that is catering for the office workers in Holborn. You can take away the pre-packed salads, wraps and mezze or wait for a dish from the grill. I’m meeting a friend for lunch and not quite sure if I’ve made a good choice.
Vida Tayebi tells us that she wanted to set something up where the food was authentic, Persian. She’s a big fan of Sabrina Ghayour and Persiana sits open on the counter top. But, she explains, the dishes here are ones her own family make. Downstairs in the vast kitchen she’s enthusiastic about plans for expansion. The kitchen is purposely large enough to enable her to use Gray’s Inn Road as a hub for future outlets, there’s already a delivery service and provision for office catering
Given our lack of knowledge of Persian food, we decide to leave Vida to pick a selection of dishes from the menu for us to try. After a few trays arrive it seems that we are actually going to try 80% of the food in the restaurant. Somehow though it’s fresh enough and light enough not to feel too much of a chore.
Dips include the pretty pink Beetroot and Parsley Yoghurt, a Baby Spinach Dill and Yoghurt dip and a Cucumber, Raisin and Mint Yoghurt dip. Lovely fresh flavour combinations which complement the wraps
If I worked in the area I’d be here regularly – the prices are very keen – Tabbouleh at £1.60 for a generous portion and the hearty wraps mostly around £4
There are souffles, which turn out to be fluffy egg mixtures – more like a crustless quiche or fritatta and which work well in a takeaway environment.
And there are the grills – which turn out to be meals in their own right, served with salads and rice
There are meatballs and a fragrant Lamb Shoulder Soup which is substantial enough to be a main course. Everything has a distinctive piquancy – a mixture of sour and sweet that is apparently one of the distinguishing features of Persian food.
And there’s an excellent Tabboulah. I suspect I have something of a tabboulah fetish – the parsley and mint mixture is cleansing and if you have over eaten somehow helps you recover. At this moment in time, very welcome!
We are not really in need of dessert but, a little encouragement means that we are provided with some B-Tempted Gluten Free Cakes to the delight of my companion who has a gluten intolerance and Rinkoff Crodoughs (which of course I have to eat!). While neither are Persian, I respect Vida’s decision to stick to savoury dishes while the concept is established. Doing a few things extremely well seems better than trying to do everything and achieving no more than a mediocre result
This is a well planned and well executed concept that deserves to succeed. The food is excellent and the pricing keen. And, it’s just that little bit different. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and I wish Vida all the best and hope that there will be a Din Din just a little bit closer to home soon!
52 Gray’s Inn Road,
London, WC1X 8LT