Zayna (November 2012)

It was a rare and beautiful thing to be greeted warmly and recognised by the manager of a restaurant that neither my dining comrade nor I had visited in more than a year. This set the tone for the rest of the evening. I would struggle to find any cause for complaint about this restaurant whatsoever. The decor is beautiful, warm woods and comfy sofas; the overall feeling very intimate. The food is amazing and there may not be sufficient superlatives to capture it. There is a clear attention to detail; serious time and effort goes into the preparation of each dish and some items are apparently cooked for over 24 hours. All the spices are also ground in-house and the chef is happy to cook the dishes to the strength required by the table. We opted for a series of vegetarian dishes (it is a good touch that one can enjoy two half portions of any vegetarian dish for £13 – in other words doubling your options). Each was highly different and yet exquisite in terms of flavour combination and texture. Okra is rarely prepared well, but Zayna showed how to do it properly, especially when mixed with onions and dried pomegranate seeds. The wine list had improved since our last visit and a bracing Domaine Champelou from the Loire acted as a perfect food match. Indicative of the Zayna approach, we also appreciated not having ‘service’ automatically added to the bill. In this case, there was no doubt in our minds to recognise fully the experience we had had here.