Harbour Grill & Tap, Port Baku, Baku, www.saffron.az, Tel.: (012) 404 8205
Like all the Baku restaurants run by British company Saffron Hospitality, Harbour Tap & Grill in the Port Baku area is well presented. Lots of brickwork, exposed copper pipes and carefully styled maritime details give this fish restaurant a suitably nautical feel. Waiting staff are dressed in jauntily striped t-shirts, emphasising the restaurant’s yacht club direction. You can eat inside, at the central bar or at tables, or outside on the pavement. It’s light, fresh and airy and a relaxed destination for lunch or dinner, a deux or in a crowd.
Service is a little so so, certainly friendly but occasionally a bit fuzzy at the edges. The menu offers delicious sounding fish choices, from fish and chips to lobster, but also beef for those who are not keen pescatarians. What’s nice is that the starters come in such a variety that you can satisfyingly indulge in one or two of those if you fancy a lighter meal.
I particularly like their crispy fried artichokes with parmesan shavings although unfortunately, the result varies from visit to visit. When it’s good, it’s excellent, when it’s not, it can be a bit droopy and oily. Our Southern Indian fish curry was pleasant enough but more of a yellow fish stew than an Indian curry, even by mild Keralan standards and, lacking in flavour, there were also none of the traditional curry accompaniments such as chutney, desiccated coconut, naan or poppadoms to liven things up. The roasted salmon with smoked potatoes, spinach and beurre blanc was good, if a little unexciting overall.
Our desserts did not arrive at the same time, a problem often encountered in Baku. Still, the wheat free orange polenta cake with icecream was exceedingly moreish when it came, while the lavender creme brûlée had a very good caramel crackle to it, although the custard base was a bit floppy and might have been firmer. The coffee was excellent and the lovely husband very much enjoyed the ladies beach volley ball match which was being broadcast on a large TV screen in the background.