Hafez has been serving Persian food to the denizens of Bayswater since 1983. Named after a 14th century Iranian poet, the restaurant is set in a terrace with three outside tables and a ground floor dining room. The room itself is eccentrically decorated with displays of cutlery on the walls, and has wooden floors and no tablecloths. The hard surfaces mean that noise levels are quite high. There is a short wine list, with a selection of wines from around the world, mostly under £25 in price, and with no vintages listed. Mineral water was £1.90 a bottle, Stella Artois £3 a bottle. I had rather hoped to try a rice dish for which the cuisine is well known, but the rice specials were only available on weekends. The head chef, Farshid Ziafa, worked in a restaurant in Tehran in his youth, but has been working here for many years.
Hummus (£3.50) was good, having better texture than many, though there is only so much than can be done with hummus (11/20). The thing I most enjoyed was the Persian bread (£1.50). This was supple in texture when so often this type of bread is served rock-hard (easily 13/20). Dolmeh (£3.90) i.e. stuffed vine leaves were pleasant if unexciting, the vinegary sauce with them too sharp (10/20).
Sea bass fillet (£13.90) was pan-fried, seasoned with saffron and spices, but the spicing was extremely subtle to the point where it was hard to detect (11/20). Boneless chicken kebabs (£9.50) were fine, rather like a chicken tikka without the spices (11/20). Both main courses were served with some rice and a basic salad without dressing, the overall effect a bit dry.
There were a few desserts, but the baklava that I fancied trying was bought-in, and so we stopped at that point. The bill came to £23 before tip, with just water and beer to drink. Service was pleasant enough but was quite slow, and it was not easy to get either of the waitresses’ attention. Overall Hafez is a decent enough neighbourhood restaurant, and certainly better than several Persian restaurants that I have tried over the years, but it is not somewhere to which to plan a special trip.