This restaurant is relatively unknown by foodies in London and it’d be great to keep it that way; its honest, unpretentious and economically priced. Abu Zaad is a Syrian eatery tucked safely away from the trail of restaurants which feed the shopping masses of Westfield, Shepherds Bush.
With a strict no alcohol policy and halal meat, Abu Zaad is home to West London’s dedicated Middle Eastern food lovers; not the type that go people watching in Momos or nearby Pacha, but the type who appreciate wholesome home cooked food.
Many dishes may strike familiar chords with Middle Eastern food fans, but Abu Zaad’s menu spreads further than kebabs, falafel and hummus. At Abu Zaad you’ll find an array of stews, salad, mezzeh and rice dishes to please the palate and fill the belly. If you don’t know what you want just look around at the other diners and ask them whats good: they’re almost always regulars enjoying a taste of home.
Try Fattet Makdous on the hot starter menu. Minced meat stuffed mini aubergines with layers of tahina, garlicky yoghurt, onions and crispy fried pitta bread topped with pine nuts makes a mouth-watering experience you won’t forget in a hurry. The Kibbeh are the best in West London. Bamia (Okra stew with lamb) is tasty and familiar: its one of those dishes all Middle Eastern Mums know how to make.
Another personal fav on the menu is Molokhia. Molokhia stew is eaten in Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt. It’s a stew of bitter greens often called ‘Jew’s Mallow’, often cooked with chicken. The leaves aren’t dissimilar to Neapoletan ‘Friarielli’ or Cime di Rape. Lamp chops are always succulent and Maklooba (Or Makloba – Rice, Nuts and meat encased in rich smokey aubergine slices) seems to be a staple for the Abu Zaad regulars.
And for afters? Well I always pick the Cheese Halawa, a sweetened cream cheese in soft syrup soaked pastry, garnished with crushed Pistachio nuts. Snap it up before its gone! They’re made on the premises and a real favorite of the regulars. Second choice? Konafa cream; light but thick cream flavoured with rose water, sandwiched in between shredded pastry, drizzled with syrup and a sprinkling of nuts.
With the gravelly voice of George Wassouf, Syria’s most cherished singer, providing a soundtrack to your visit, its easy to forget you’re in West London; what Abu Zaad offers along with great food is an authentic Damascene experience. Groups of diners converse in Arabic as large screen TVs show Syrian news or football. The ever friendly staff are attentive, hard working and eager to accomodate and even though they’re busy, they’re jovial.
One approaches our table with a complimentary plate of Baklava and as he places it before us he says ‘Sweet for sweety…’
At the risk of coming across as rude my friend and I attempt to stifle laughter. Ultimately his line gets the better of us and all three of us burst out laughing.
I guess it’s better than if he’d have used the line when the meat arrived!
29, Uxbridge Road
London W12 8LH
Tel: 0208 749 5107