Where: Camden Market

Cuisine: Pan-Asian

Swank Levels:

3/5 (for effort rather than outcome)

The only restaurant in the UK in which I’ve had to take an escalator up to, Gilgamesh is known for its swank. Yet it hardly resembles a restaurant.
Costing a staggering £60 million to build, this 520 seat space is representative of a high topped steel buffet tent at an army camp than a cosy restaurant you’d want to have a relaxing evening meal in. I have never encountered so large a space where no attempt has been made to break it up into smaller sections.

This does not  make the diner seem special and catered for, instead it emphasis the fact that they are only one person in a restaurant that has to cater for over 500 people – something which many of the headset wearing waiters will emphasis.

Not only is the management of space an instant turn off but so is what they have put in it. Composed of an elaborated carved wood effect interior, there is harsh red and algae green light glowing from practically everything including a strange assortment of very large ornaments. This harks more towards the badly themed casino rooms in Las Vegas than a quality restaurant.
But aside from the strange and uncomfortable surroundings: the table are so big and bulky that there is no leg room or space to move  and get up from the table; the only window looks out towards a train track with constant freight trains trudging past, there is a queue of people waiting to get in and move up to the nightclub, and they have toilet attendants.
 In other words, a very strange dining experience.

Would I Want Seconds?

We had booked Gilgamesh’s half price set menu offer at, offering 2 starters, a main course, dessert and a few side dishes. However, they seemed to get the basic flavours the wrong way round, as our starter, Pomegranate Rice Paper Rolls and Green Papaya and Mango Salad with Chilli and Lime dressing were both missing any kind of chilli and were unbearably sweet.

 My main course was a Thai Red Curry with Organic Parsnip, Celeriac and Thai aubergines, which was just as good as similar dishes found in Wagamamas. However the dessert, Green Tea Crème Brule was innovative, well presented and addictively good.
It’s a good thing that Gilgamesh’s set menu ends on a high, as I’m sure it’s deterred a fair few complaints.

So would I want seconds? I’d rather just have the dessert thanks.
Can I Afford Seconds?
The half price deal which seems to be available all the time is definitely more appealing the £55 full price option usually. The amount of food provided is good but the quality definitely isn’t. This may be because the kitchen is cooking these dishes is large vats en masse for the 500 diners they can hold in the restaurant in one sitting.

Drinks and anything extra you may want on the side costs a standard ridiculous price, driving those who would be tempted by more dessert well away from it.
Gilgamesh has an extreme amount of hype surrounding its decor, even though it’s more fitting as a sci-fi museum than a restaurant. My only hope now is that the a la carte menu is 500 times better than the set menu, as this is the only way they can keep serious diners coming.

Gilgamesh on Urbanspoon

Square Meal