In the nooks and crannies of West London where you’ll hear a world of languages spoken over tea and shisha, its easy to pass by Maison Souss, an unassuming bakery lining Shepherds Bush Green, without discovering the secret world of gastronomy lying beyond its shop front. Born long before Westfield, this bakery begins the foodie journey that is Uxbridge Road. (If you like Middle Eastern / North African flavours then this road is a MUST!)
Stepping inside, you’re instantly met by scents of honeyed air, coffee and spiced soup. Owner Mohammed busily rushes too and fro behind the counter. My eyes feast on mountains of appealing sweets and desserts stacked on and behind the counter.
It may have been something to do with the fact Eid was a few days away, but there where hoards of eager people choosing biscuits, sweets and breads to take away. Customers chat over tea and fresh fruity cream cake behind me and I try to stay calm and talk myself out of buying one of everything I see on realising that what Maison Souss offers is undeniably fresh, authentic and inexpensive.
Try the crescent shaped white biscuits, cornes de gazelle – ‘gazelle horns’, light and almondy, flavoured with orange blossom water and aniseed – these are now my absolute favorite and I am dying for the recipe! There is baklava, chebakia and other fragranced almond based cookies which remind of Sicilian pasta di mandorla. Mind you, as the name suggests, Maison Souss offers traditional North African sweets, and Tunisia is only a short distance from Sicily, (another piece of food anthropology here!) Moorish influence on Southern Italian cuisine is alive and well. I am used to good old Baklava, London is abundant with it (some of the best from Green Lanes in North London), but what my new favorite bakery offers are light, nut based sweets, semolina honeyed delights and French influenced delicate creamy fruit cakes. Maison Souss also offers freshly baked bread, several soups such a, lentil, Harira and broad bean, and Tagine, all inexpensive and delicious looking.
There is always space for sweet after savory and Maison Souss is conveniently situated in between Shepherd’s Bush station and one of my other favorite West London eateries, Syrian restaurant Abu Zaad, at the corner of Lime Grove.
Maison Souss, 104 Uxbridge Road, London W12 8LR.