By David de Winter – Sports Editor
This week, TLE sent me to Le Ziz restaurant in Dalston. ‘Not Dalston!’ I protested. ‘Everyone has skinnier jeans than me. Their haircuts are more asymmetrical than mine and their glasses have thicker rims. I’ll get ritualistically mocked.’ But TLE was having none of it. So, reluctantly, off I pottered to North-East London.
Le Ziz is a relatively recent addition to the London dining scene, situated in the new Dalston Square development right next to Dalston Junction station. It is a blend of Anatolian and Mezopotamian cuisine with a modern twist, a style of cooking for which the area is famed. The restaurant itself is quite large and, in the kitchen I noticed a traditional stone oven. Things were looking up.
My dining companion Jonny and I began with Sucuk, a grilled sausage, and grilled Octopus, which went down a treat. The menu had a plethora of choices and it was difficult to narrow it down to just two – I was very tempted by the Kalamar and Karides (prawns in tomato sauce) and Le Ziz also offers plenty of vegetarian options.
For the mains I chose a traditional Lamb Special Casserole of diced lamb, onions, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, a hearty dish perfect for the coming winter months – it was devoured with relish. Jonny went for a Leziz Special grill of lamb, chicken and kofte with tomato sauce and yoghurt which was equally well received. The portions at Le Ziz are certainly not on the stingy side so be prepared to loosen your belt a notch or two if you fancy dessert. All of this was accompanied by a bottle of Nederberg The Manor, a Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa, which is one of the most beautiful wines I have tasted this year, and at £20 per bottle is an absolute snip.
Sacrificing my svelte and muscular figure in the name of restaurant reviewing, we selflessly ordered dessert – a Kunefe (a baked pastry with honey syrup and pistachio) and a classic Baklava – both were the perfect postlude to a very satisfying meal.
As I squeezed my now not-at-all trim physique through the door into the Dalston night, I noticed that I had lost my allergy to the area. I used to think it was purely the home of the hip and the trendy, where the word pop-up was used in every other sentence. But places like Le Ziz are slowly making the area more accessible to the normal everyday Londoner. Dining in Dalston needn’t necessarily be no frills, minimalistic and alternative; a warm welcome, friendly service, comfortable and modern décor, tasty food that one can eat with cutlery – dining as it should be. Looks like Le Ziz has started a new trend in Dalston.