Microwaves, food processors, bread-makers, gas barbeques – you name it and there’s probably a gadget or appliance that makes cooking easier and quicker for you. The problem is that most of these items also take away a crucial level of flavour and satisfaction that comes only with real love, time and hands-on attention. Visiting Azou reminded me how much better food can be when cooked this way.
Take a look at the stickers in Azou’s window and you’ll see a list awards and recommendations that are firmly associated with multi-million pound, celebrity chef run clichés; everyone from Charles Campion to The Michelin Guide have something nice to say. The difference is that Azou is a cosy and unassuming little North African restaurant somewhat incongruously placed just outside Hammersmith.
The interior is attractively decorated in classic North African furnishings and ornaments, creating an authentic and laid back feel. We visited on a busy Saturday evening and there was also a really friendly vibe to the place, almost like everyone in the restaurant knew each other.
The food was the real star though, being cooked with real care and pride by the restaurant’s chef/owner Chris Benarab. We started with delicious spiced Sardines delicately fried in a light batter and Bourek (crisp pastry filled marinated minced lamb, herbs & spices) which provided a stunning balance of spices. Even the Hummus was worthy of praise and was served with some lovely warm Algerian bread. For mains, Dr Dodgy went for the impressive Sea bass, which was again skilfully spiced and sautéed in olive oil, garlic & lemon. The best was yet to come, for it was my Constantine tajine which stole the show; featuring a 4 hour cooked lamb shank with a blend of deep, rich spices this is truly one of the most magnificent dishes to be eaten anywhere in London. By this time we were both ready to pop, so we shared some lovely fresh Baklava for dessert.
So we clearly l-o-v-e-d the food, but the biggest surprise was the price. With starters at around £4.50 and the massive mains for £10-12 (including all the trimmings), Azou not only provides stunning food, but also one of London’s great bargains!
Cuisine: North African
Dinner for 2 (excluding drinks): £40
375 King Street
Tel: 020 8563 7266