Fusing Middle Eastern promise with a contemporary edge, Del’Aziz in Fulham combines a homely bakery with a deli and buzzing restaurant, where homemade North African and Middle Eastern classics are the speciality. Walking through the rustic deli, there’s a laidback vibe, with people chatting and grazing over chunky wooden bench tables.
With the languid ambience of a modern Middle Eastern Souk, the candlelit restaurant is headed by an energetic open kitchen at one end, and tranquil views of the street visible at the other end. Live music kicked off the night with an acoustic singer and guitar duo perched by the sweeping bar surrounded by plush cushions in the lounge, and on other nights, there’s exotic and vibrant belly dancing, we’re told.
As we were seated, the impressive sweeping back-lit magenta and black bar sat before us like a stage, whilst Turkish-style lanterns stood aglow on tables, scattered about the restaurant. Having ordered after several eager prompts, the first of the starters are delivered. Minced lamb and sun-dried apricot boreck resembled portly little pastry cigars and had a very faint hint of cinnamon. They were outshone by the vegetarian boreck, which were stuffed with feta cheese and mint, and had a more distinctively salty flavour than the meat boreck. Citrusy yet richly dark, pan fried chicken livers were studded with crunchy, ruby pomegranate seeds and fresh mint; one of the best starters on the menu according to the waitress, and one of the highlights of the meal.
Straight off the smoking-hot charcoal grill, a mega shish platter swoops down on our table in a grand terracotta dish, monopolising the space. It was clear that the mixed shish main course selection was more than enough for two. Diving in, the rich, tasty paprika spice of the juicy Moroccan Merguez sausages contrasted with chicken kebabs, and the tiger prawns looked gloriously huge and juicy.
Scorchingly red, a small heap of harissa in a terracotta bowl added a welcome fiery lick of heat to the shish platter. Shish of lamb stood out as being the finest kebab king on the platter, the tender meat seared with an edge of charcoal smokiness. Alongside, the Persian jewelled rice was bursting with amazing texture and flavour, featuring a tart and fruity mixture of barberries, mulberries, crunchy pistachios and lightly spiced orange peel. After our dishes were efficiently whisked away, we both agreed that the service was both punctual and distinctly sullen. To end the meal, I chose the Lebanese Date cocktail, a blitzed pineapple concoction shaken with fresh dates and a tinge of delicious caramel.
We decided against dessert, but you could opt for an array of dessert goodies or Middle Eastern sweets from the gourmet-packed deli. Sat alongside freshly baked bread and sweet pastries, you’ll find batches of artisan biscuits and chocolate-adorned gateaux sat next to over-sized clouds of sugary meringues and shiny fruit-laden tarts.
The pinnacle of the night, a shisha pipe bearing glowing red-hot coals was delivered to the front of the restaurant whilst we followed suit from our table, leaving the bustling restaurant behind us. Whilst occupying the pavement seating and puffing out clouds of watermelon-scented shisha smoke into the night air, we provoked a fair deal of intrigue from a few shisha-loving passers-by on the street. Vanston Street has a tranquil village-style feel, and for a laidback yet hearty flavour of the Middle East with vibrant entertainment, Del Aziz is a welcome respite from the frenetic buzz of nearby Fulham Broadway.
Del Aziz, Fulham
24-32 Vanston Place, London, SW6 1AX
Booking available here
Entertainment: Live Jazz – Thursdays