It was two years ago when Moroccan-born Meryem Mortell had an epiphany – Having tried everything London had to offer – some good, some less-good – none managed to give her the feeling of home. In this very moment, the seed that would germinate into Zayane was planted and sprung up in London’s Little Morocco, in Golborne Road”.
Zayane opened its doors for business about a year ago, and if you are wondering where the name comes from there is quite a story behind it. The first inhabitants of Morocco were the Berbers and Zayane was one of the tribes. Meryem’s grandmother comes from the Zayane tribe and some of her most precious childhood memories are from the mountains, where the Zayanes cooked food that was original, fresh and full of Moroccan spices and flavours. “I want everybody to experience that”, she mentions, “Morocco is not just big towns like Marrakesh – there is so much more to it (Morocco) and Moroccan food”.
Trying to keep Moroccan traditions alive, Meryem has created a fusion cuisine mixing Moroccan and British ingredients, always maintaining the balance between the flavours. How she has managed to do this? Her secret is simple: The meat is cooked traditionally with all the spices and exotic Moroccan ingredients but the side dishes are inspired by British cuisine and do not include any spices. Meryem has created a new culture by introducing a fusion Moroccan-British cuisine, which her son and head chef, is now following adding his own personal touch after training with a Michelin star chef.
The ingredients used in all Zayane dishes are either locally sourced seasonally or imported from Morocco. Using the best quality seasonal ingredients is not reflected just on the taste but also on the menu. Each season, customers can find different dishes in both meat and vegetarian options.
When it comes to the menu, the lamb, accompanied by onion puree and caramelised vegetables is a must-try at Zayane. There are also lots of vegetarian and gluten free options available. If you are into a small meal, the light bites are perfect for lunch or dinner. Moroccan tapas, great for sharing while enjoying “The Zayane”, the restaurant’s signature cocktail made of infused Moroccan tea and prosecco. Alternatively you can try one of the other low calorie cocktails offered. If you are around the area on a Saturday, make sure to stop by and try the shakshuka (eggs cooked in Moroccan tomato sauce), a perfect breakfast or brunch dish. There are no Moroccan desserts at Zayane, but the traditional almond biscuits will definitely compliment your tea.
What Meryem and her son are trying to accomplish is to make every customer feel like home in Zayane and give him/her a traditional, authentic experience, a real taste of Morocco.
Why should you visit Zayane? “If you want to eat well and have a good, full meal come here” she explains. “Customers come here because they feel like home.”