NEW CHEF at this venue
I confess, I’ve fallen in love. The object of my culinary infatuation is one Reuben Gould. In case you don’t know, he is Baku’s very own superchef. A Brit from London who has trained under such luminaries as Marco Pierre White, Jaques Rolancy and Andrew Turner to name just a few and who worked at The Park Lane Hilton, Marco Pierre White, Browns 1837 and other top of the tree kitchens in the UK before he came to Baku three years ago, 35 year old Reuben is the Saffron Restaurant Group’s consulting chef for all their restaurants here. He is currently running Evde Amburan and goodness, the boy can cook!
Evde Amburan which means ‘at home’ in Azeri is located about 40 minutes drive from the centre of Baku, a beach pebble’s throw from the Jumeirah Bilgah Hotel. Annexed to the Amburan Beach Club, it sits right on the water’s edge, casually chic, cool and inviting, with a fabulous terrace, perfect for drinks at sunset and a top notch meal under the stars.
Six of us went. We arrived quite early at 7 pm on a Saturday. Luckily we’d had the foresight to book a table as the place soon filled up with Baku’s beautiful people. It seemed as though everybody who is anybody was there and I recognised quite a few high profile faces. But never mind all that, let’s concentrate on the menu! The choice was simply mouthwatering and I found it difficult to make up my mind. Between the six of us ordered Quinoa Salad, King Prawns, lightly battered Calamari Rings and Scallop Carpaccio, followed by Mushroom Risotto, Scottish Salmon, Grilled Lamb Chops with a side portion of Garden Greens, Mussel Linguine and Goats Cheese Ravioli. Then for pudding: Flourless Orange Cake with ice cream, a rich Chocolate Truffle Cake also with ice cream and a Banana Caramel Crostata. All this was washed down with copious amounts of red and white wine, water, cocktails and digestifs.
What can I say? At risk of sounding completely gushing, I have to tell you that it was all absolutely perfect. The quinoa salad was refreshing and flavoursome, the prawns huge and juicy, the Calamari light as a feather with a tasty thick and mayonnaisey dunking vinaigrette, the yummy carpaccio as delicate and thinly sliced as humanly possible, the Risotto creamy but not pappy, the Salmon grilled to perfection, the chops small and succulent in a great gravy enhanced by the pea, bean and green leaf combo, the linguine with tiny pancetta pieces and mussels in their shells quite awesome and the Ravioli more moreish than is decent. I won’t even start on the puddings or I’ll have you salivating uncontrollably. And yes, believe it or not, the service was completely ace too. Our waiter spoke good English and answered all our questions competently and with a smile, all our courses came at the same time and plates were not removed while some of us were still eating. When we moved to take our coffee in one of the comfy outdoor sofa areas, our drinks were moved without error. There were no misunderstandings, no hiccoughs. The stars glittered above us, a gentle breeze from the sea took the sting out of the sweltering temperature, we were replete and happy. Just so you believe me and don’t think I am telling you fantastical porkies (for the uninitiated: cockney slang; pork pies = lies), I have been racking my brain to find just one little something I can nitpick about and sure enough, after much hard deliberation, I’ve got it: why a restaurant of this calibre has paper napkins rather than linen ones is beyond me. There, that’s the sum of my lily gilding criticism.
In my opinion, Evde Amburan is without a shadow of a doubt the best restaurant in Baku by miles. In fact, I think it’s right up there with the Michelin starred establishment in London and New York I have eaten at. It’s possible, of course, that I went on an extra good day even though it was a Saturday and very busy.
Now you probably think that eating here will cost you an arm and a leg but you’d be wrong. Sure, it’s a little more pricey than your your corner kebab place but at roughly AZN 65 per head including all the booze and service charge too, I think we got astoundingly good value for our meal, considering the quality and quantity of the food and the tip top service.
Evde Amburan will close for the winter months on or around 1st October and Reuben Gould will then be going back to his Baku roots cooking at the Evde City restaurant as well as applying his skills at Harbour Tap & Grill in Port Baku. If he’s that much closer to where I live, I will surely completely lose my waistline and turn into a Michelin woman. When I do, I will at least be in a position to award him the stars he deserves, if the Michelin man doesn’t get there before me!