Friday, 7 August 2015

Abu Zaad - Best Restaurant in Shepherd's Bush?

Abu Zaad, Uxbridge Road
Abu Zaad is my favourite restaurant in The Bush - the place I keep coming back to. Brightening up a rather tatty stretch of the Uxbridge Road, this family-run business offers fantastic value, delicious Syrian food.

The only downside is you can't get a proper drink, but fresh juices and smoothies (try the mint lemonade) help to make up for the absence of alcohol.

Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, 2009.
The 11th century minaret has since been destroyed.
Abu Zaad is run by a family from Damascus - and the whole place is lavishly decorated with plenty of carved wood and Middle Eastern brasswork. You will recognise the Syrian table from other neighbouring cuisines - Syrian cooking shares many dishes with its Eastern Mediterranean neighbours.

Old friends include the usual mezze suspects - hummus, tabbouleh, grilled meat and plenty of aubergine.

I can confirm its authenticity - I went to Syria back in 2009, well before the present troubles began, and food was one of the great pleasures of the trip.

Losing at backgammon to our guide. Damascus, 2009
Try the Moutabal for starters and make sure to order their signature chicken dish - farrouj Abu Zaad - as a main course. Of course, order rice, not chips. If there are four or more of you, and you don't know what to order, get the family mixed grill.

If you go for lunch, they offer lamb and falafel wraps for absurdly reasonable prices and the place is rarely busy.

The service is generally brisk and efficient, though on busy days they can get a bit overwhelmed. Don't go after sunset on Ramadan and expect anything to happen quickly.

If you don't believe me, take it from my father, who spent years in the Middle East, and now lives in Bristol.  One of the only ways I can tempt him up to London is to promise him dinner at Abu Zaad.

Roman Colonnade at Palmyra. Going....gone?
No doubt the owners of Abu Zaad have family back in Syria, and one can only imagine what they are going through now, after four years of brutal civil war.

Looking back through the photographs of my trip, many of the places I visited are gone, or in ruins. ISIL have taken and occupied beautiful Palmyra and will, presumably, now destroy it.

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