Although you can discover all kinds of cuisines in London, some are criminally under-represented. Northern Levant cuisine is one that comes to mind, but thankfully we’ve discovered Zala Levantine Grill next to Kerb at Camden Market. More specifically, we have to thank brothers-in-law, Tomer and Alon for opening up such a delightfully casual dining experience. Tomer who is the restaurant consultant and co-owner has worked as head chef in top restaurants in both Jerusalem and London and has come up with this simple yet flavoursome menu.
For those who enjoy exciting street food but also prefer decent cutlery and comfortable seating, then Zala is just the place for you. Split across 2 floors, the venue is small yet light and airy with white-washed walls and plenty of natural lighting. Taking pride of place in their kitchen is the taboon, which is their wood-fired oven used for baking their best-sellers, levantine pizzas.
Service isn’t mentioned often enough in restaurant reviews, but Alon is one of the most welcoming hosts you will ever encounter. He starts off by serving you what seems like an endless supply of meze dishes that may include baba ganoush, roast cauliflower, tahini, fresh hummus, sweet potato and parsley salad. All these are complimentary of course! They are packed with exotic flavours and some with very hot spices and perfect for dipping with their fluffy, pillowy flatbreads.
The beef and lamb kebab used extremely finely minced meat which was served on a bed of herbs along with spicy sauces, vine tomatoes and onion. This was as far removed as you can get from the corner shop kebab variety. Even though they do offer a vegetarian option of mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza with homemade matbucha (slow roasted tomato and pepper), Alon felt compelled to go above and beyond for my vegetarian guest, so that the pizza included pomegranate, rocket and aubergine.
The healthily portioned sides we tried included a particularly tasty vegetable infused burgul with chopped parsley and very earthy roasted vegetables.
Alon recommended that we tried some Israeli wines; the barkan classic malbec from Israel was punchy and paired well with the meat dishes and unsurprisingly was Alon’s personal favourite.
Don’t leave without trying their Coriander seed and apple malabi. It’s a traditional, rose-scented milk pudding from Israel which is light and a great palate-cleansing before you leave your wonderful dining experience.