Having thankfully dodged the recent fire that broke out in Camden Market, Zala reopened its doors to hungry customers, including myself. Opened in April by brothers-in-law Alon and Tomer, this friendly little place is so welcoming. The owners are passionate about the food and the ingredients they source from the Levant: wine from Israel, olive oil from Lebanon. The Levant is an area of the Eastern Mediterranean, comprised of countries including Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Turkey and Cyprus.
Zala is a Levantine grill, with a traditional menu of barbecued meats and fresh salads. Tomer’s salad is a recipe belonging to the renowned Israeli chef, Tomer Niv (one of the co-founders), a dish which Alon cutely expressed his love for. The diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, gherkins and spring onion mixed together with tahini, parsley and an egg boiled for eight minutes is so representative of a Mediterranean salad. Simple, yet colourful, refreshing and full of flavour. The summer salad is a little more unconventional, with fennel, kohlrabi, roasted celery, oranges, grapes and pomegranate making for a palette-cleansing option.
Other highlights from the small plates include the roasted cauliflower in pine nut butter, which is simply wonderful, while the crispy calamari is cooked perfectly, complimented very nicely with thinly cut rosemary potatoes.
Eyes casting over the skewers on the grill? Go for the rib eye, it’s succulent and delicious. Fancy something a little more classic? Then look no further than the Jerusalem chicken mix, which has been marinated in paprika oil and then roasted in Jerusalem spices. Great taste and so moreish.
You can also get Levantine-style pizzas, inspired by the Turkish Lahmacun. Choose from mozzarella and tomato, chicken pesto, prawns and roasted veg, or the one I tried – the beef and lamb matbucha. Topped with a green tahini, sage yoghurt and fresh rocket, it was too filling to finish yet too good to let go of, so I took the rest home in a box! Enjoy.
For more information, visit www.zalagrill.com