Del Aziz, Clapham
Bringing a hive of Turkish enchantment to trendy Clapham, Del Aziz compiles a vibrant restaurant, in-house deli and traditional entertainment. When we arrive, we venture through the artisan bakery with its crusty loaves and decadent cakes, and into the bustling yet cosy restaurant, filled with plush scattered seat cushions, glossy sweeping tables and a gallery of ornate mirrors. You may be forgiven for thinking Del Aziz is yet another chain restaurant, but when the lights go down and the music is turned up, the atmosphere is anything but run of the mill. An authentic Middle Eastern experience is guaranteed, with a very reasonable set menu including 2 mezze, a main and dessert for £22.
To start, between two of us, we chose spicy chicken wings, perfectly creamy hummus, vine leaves stuffed with rice, herbs and sumac and gently grilled sardines with mechuia and pitta bread. This was all accompanied with a wide selection of freshly-baked breads from the in-house bakery. We tried the tomato loaf and olive bread, both of which are worth buying an extra batch to take home. The food is perfect for sharing, complementing the sociable environment in which it is served. A special mention also goes out to the Del Aziz bar selection. Cocktails are good- dangerously good- and our first tipple, the popular ‘Abbie’s heartbeat’, is juicy and wonderfully refreshing. The ‘Moneypenny’ has a strong kick of gin and subtle ginger taste for true cocktail lovers.
After resisting more cocktails, we chose the fish platter served with batata harrah, and the lamb and chickpea tagine for our mains. The fish platter was a pleasantly light option, perfect for having just rolled off the sun-soaked common. In comparison, the warming tagine demonstrated Del Aziz’s ability to provide Turkish cuisine to match all tastes and moods – including the British weather! The fish platter, consisting of sea bass, cod, salmon and tiger prawns, was delicately cooked and garnished with salad leaves. The substantial portion of the tagine was surprisingly light and served with some subtly seasoned couscous.
One of the undeniable draws for Del Aziz diners is the entertainment. During the main course- quite a surreal moment- a belly-dancer weaved in and out of tables in a stunning bejewelled outfit. Inviting yet unobtrusive, it was a time to order another cocktail, suspend your disbelief and allow the performance to wash over you.
Claudia Massera, belly dancer @ Del Aziz Clapham
For dessert, we tried the selection of sorbets and the apple strudel. Desserts being my forte, I was looking forward to this course and fortunately, was not disappointed. The sorbet included a mixture of strawberry, raspberry and mango. Sweet and fruity, it was the perfect dessert after having perhaps slightly over-indulged on the Turkish cuisine. The apple strudel with yoghurt ice cream had a beautiful cinnamon after-taste and a light filo pastry, perfectly balanced with the creamy but unassuming yogurt ice cream.
Drink enough of their cocktails, and you’ll be in the mood for dancing. Lucky really, as it seems this will be the inevitable conclusion of any meal spent there. The lure of the two bars will do their best to corrupt any innocent meal. Be warned, you may come here for the food, but you’ll stay for the entertainment and return for the atmosphere.
Del Aziz, Clapham
55-57 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London, SW4 0JQ
Online booking available here
Entertainment: Comedy Night at Zahra Bar (available on Thursdays)
Mojito Nights: £3 Mojitos at Zahra Bar until 11pm (available on Fridays)
Tagine Nights: 50% off any Tagine dishes (available on Mondays)