When you create a restaurant, you better have a compelling vision to share with your guests if you want to stay open into your second year. Of course, said ‘compelling vision’ better manifest itself through delicious and captivating food and drink served with grace and elan. This ‘special something’ – your cutting edge – that will make your restaurant unique and worthwhile must burn from within the restaurateur to have any chance of making it on the grand culinary stage that is London.
And yet the restaurateur must recognise that her/his dining experience is in constant dialogue with customers, not merely the restaurant dogmatically sharing its own views on what is and isn’t delectable to eat and drink.
For this reason, Zayane has two ears and one mouth– metaphorically, of course.
While it is important for us to constantly improve and innovate our offering – and modern Moroccan cuisine – from within, it is doubly important that we listen to the expressed wishes, desires and criticisms of our customers.
Until this year Zayane has fully subscribed to the orthodoxy of ‘seasonality’. It makes every sense in the world to tailor one’s menu to the ingredients that are freshest in the season in which you are serving them; it also makes sense that the dish in question agrees with the mood and ambiance of the season in question – cosy, warming dishes in winter, and light and refreshing dishes in summer. For all the academic and practical sense this makes, at Zayane we had a huge problem: our guests simply adore two of our winter dishes and love eating them on a hot summer’s day just as much as they do on a frigid winter’s evening – our lamb tagine and our vegan sweet potato tagine, respectively.
As a result, this spring and summer our lamb and sweet potato tagines won’t be going anywhere. If you’ve tasted our lamb tagine you’ll know what all the fuss is about as it is absolutely amazing.
If you haven’t tried it, know this – people travel from all over the country (and sometimes the world) just to eat it, and it is the dish that got Zayane recognised by the Michelin Guide. My son Chef Joe is the master of this dish – he marinates it in his homemade ras el hanoutovernight and then slow cooks it for five hours with seasonal veg. The sauce of bitter Moroccan honey and balsamic glaze is then added to the lamb, which is accompanied by an onion purée and prunes. Those of a vegetarian, vegan or ‘reducetarian’ persuasion are always heartened to know that meat-free and plant-based dishes are always spectacular and full of flavour when it comes to Moroccan cuisine. The epitome of this is our sweet potato tagine, a delicate dish whose deliciousness is the result being cooked with love and some cinnamon and Moroccan honey. We are also keeping around our much-loved pear and goat’s cheese salad that is supposed to be enjoyed during the winter but will be available all summer long (our customers wouldn’t have it any other way!)! These three dishes are as scrumptious as they come and are made super ‘summery’ when paired with a chilled bottle of white or rosé wine!
Our customers have also confided that they are also expecting something refreshing and distinctly Moroccan from Zayane this spring and summer – as a result Joe and I have created some new zesty salads and a range of new mouth-watering desserts.
Our new salads – which can be ordered as a starter or a main – include a roast beetroot, roast peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, goat’s cheese and rocket salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing, a roast asparagus, poached egg and pecorino cheese salad with a preserved lemon dressing and his bulgur wheat, cucumber shavings, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and broccoli salad tossed in a mint dressing.
Our new desserts are Moroccan-inspired and are ideal for the warm weather ahead – highlights include our rosewater cheesecake and our citrus sable served with mango caviar as well as our new range of parfaits that include chocolate and hazelnut, white chocolate and almond and meringue and lime.
At Zayane customer feedback isn’t just important – it literally guides us to new and improved levels of flavour and innovation. As such, we are always looking for more feedback – both positive and negative.
We hope to welcome you to Zayane, very, very soon!