One place I really do want to visit at the moment is Morocco, as I’ve always heard wonderful things about the food. I enjoy cooking Moroccan style food at home, although I’m never completely sure how authentic it is. So when I was invited to try out a new Moroccan restaurant which had just opened up on Golborne Road in Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove, I couldn’t wait to learn more about the cuisine and culture.
Founded by Meryem Mortell, originally from Casablanca, Zayane opened up a few weeks ago, with Chris Bower as Head Chef. The Yorkshireman has previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurant Thackeray’s and The Ivy, and his aim at Zayane is to combine the vibrant flavours of authentic Moroccan cuisine, with modern culinary techniques and European influences.
We were given a choice of two starters, mains and desserts, which was nice, as often at blogger dinners you eat what’s provided unless you have specific dietary requirements. It’s not usually a problem for me as I’ll happily eat anything (I’m probably the least fussy eater ever!), but it’s nice to have a choice.
For starters we could choose from the vegetarian Zayane Platter (zaalouk, chakchouka, beans in tomato sauce, chickpeas etc) or the Pan Fried Scallops. On our table, we tried each. The scallops were lovely, although I actually preferred the platter, simply because there were more flavours and textures to experience.
For main course there was a fish dish or a lamb dish. Everyone on my table went for the lamb, which was served on a pea puree and what I took to be something like bulgur wheat, along with preserved lemon. It was a really unusual dish and I still haven’t completely made up my mind on it. The lamb was cooked beautifully and I’m all for unusual flavour combinations, but I’m not sure about lamb and lemon together.
The dessert options were chocolate delice or clafoutis – I went for the latter. It was quite rich at the end of the meal but utterly delicious!
We were served cocktails when we arrived which were lovely, with vodka, apple juice, passion fruit and raspberry. However it soon became apparent that no other alcohol was being served in the restaurant. We were served as many of the cocktails as we wanted, but they became very sweet after a while, and I just felt that some of the dishes were crying out for a good glass of wine to accompany them. I think I saw another guest bring a bottle in with them, so they might be operating a ‘bring your own’ policy, which would have been good to know, as I think it would have elevated some of these dishes.
There’s a brilliant ambience at Zayane, with great attention to detail in terms of the décor and music. It was only half way through the starters I noticed a man in the corner with a microphone singing away – it was so authentic, I’d thought it was just the restaurant’s sound system!
My only slight concern with Zayane is this blend of traditional with modern. If I fancy a particular type of cuisine, whether that’s Chinese, Indian, or in this case, Moroccan, I want to go somewhere that’s going to dish up good hearty grub from that part of the world. And so, if I was craving Moroccan, I’m not sure that I’d go to Zayane. Because in my mind, it’s simply too nice! I’d want to go there for a special occasion rather than getting my Moroccan ‘fix’. It’s also not the cheapest place to visit, with starters around £13, and mains averaging around £20. But if I lived locally and there was a special occasion coming up, or if I just fancied a really good meal, I’d go there without a doubt! And I’ll definitely be recommending it to my friends who live in West London.
As well as the a la carte menu, they also have a working lunch menu, afternoon tea and Sunday brunch, so there are plenty of occasions to be able to pay them a visit. You can find out more on their website here.
I was invited to dinner by Zayane Restaurant and Golborne Nash PR, but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.