Original Tagines

Original Tagines

Exquisite tagines such as lamb and pear, and fish with herbs and olives, are brought to the table in traditional cooking pots at this cosy restaurant. The dimly-lit Moroccan-themed interior including tiled tables and ironwork chairs works well for a wallet-conscious romantic night. A good wine selection too.

7a Dorset Street, London, W1, tel:020 7935 1545, www.originaltagines.com.

Al Waha

A favourite of Lebanese expatriates including London-based food writer Anissa Helou, two-storey Al Waha (bottom left) is relaxing and romantic. Expertly produced mezze includes rich yoghurt, garlic and bulgur dip, succulent walnut-stuffed baby aubergines, fatayer, and grilled quail with garlic sauce.

75 Westbourne Grove, London, W2, tel: 020 7229 0806, www.waha-uk.com.

Noura

With its contemporary Arabic music and hip decor, Noura (top left) is attracting a sophisticated crowd that would typically shy away from the Allders-furniture-department-style of London's traditional Lebanese restaurants. Mezze include sumptuous muhammara (a delicious spicy dip made from crushed nuts) and sawdat djaj (sautéed chicken livers with lemon and garlic).

16 Hobart Place, London, SW1, tel: 020 7235 9444. Also at 16 Curzon Street, W1, tel: 020 74951050, 12 William Street, SW1, tel: 020 7235 5900 and 122 Jermyn Street, SW1, tel: 020 7839 2020.

Ozer

Conveniently set just north of Oxford Circus, this spacious restaurant and bar (right) is a more upmarket destination than other Turkish restaurants in the capital, yet it represents good value. Ozer's set menus win plaudits, such as the two-course lunch offered for under a tenner.

5 Regent Street, London, W1, tel: 020 7323 0505.

Pasha

Swish modern North African style and cuisine are perfectly positioned in this charming Kensington restaurant (bottom right), where the predominance of seafood and poultry seem geared to the waistline-conscious locals. Inspired starters include goat cheese and spinach parcels with date and pistachio salad, and chargrilled baby squid stuffed with spiced minced lamb, olives and herbs.

1 Gloucester Road, SW7, tel: 020 7589 7969, www.pasha-restaurant.co.uk.

Zara

Often jam-packed with local customers, Zara (top left) offers a diverse range of Turkish and traditional Anatolian dishes at keen prices. Choosing from the tempting list of mezze is made simpler with the option of a mixed selection. Good Chilean reds at £12.50 a bottle match the flavourful lamb dishes perfectly.

11 South End Road, London, NW3, tel: 020 7794 5498.

Momo

Still glamorous, still fun, Momo's lavish interior (bottom left) makes each visit an occasion. There are plenty of traditional Moroccan dishes including mechoui (marinated lamb shoulder). Others evoke France and fine dining - think foie gras terrine with fig chutney and pain d'epices, or chocolate millefeuille with ras el hanout caramel.

25 Heddon Street, London, W1, tel: 020 7434 4040. Also at Selfridges, 2nd Floor, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1, tel: 020 7318 3620.

Walima

The distinctive sweet-sour combinations of Moroccan food are highlighted on the exciting menu of Edinburgh's Walima (top right). Fresh king prawns are marinated in lemon, rosewater, paprika, coriander, garlic and ginger, while chargrilled duck is cooked in a mixture of orange, carrots and cinnamon. If you're feeling brave, you could try the spice and herb-laden snail soup.

3A1 Dundas Street, New Town, Edinburgh, EH 36QG, tel: 0131 652 3764, www.walimarestaurant.co.uk.

Al-Shami

Al-Shami is an ancient name for the city of Damascus - and for Oxford's longest standing Lebanese venue. Fish and vegetable main courses include baked cod with hot sesame sauce, and moujadara (a mix of lentils, rice and crisp fried onions) served with salad. There's plenty from the chargrill too.

25 Walton Crescent, Oxford, tel: 01865 310 066, www.al-shami.co.uk.

Al Fassia

Windsor's Moroccan Al Fassia (right) holds a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin Guide 2005 for "good food at moderate prices". This establishment is a popular choice with vegetarians too, the friendly, family-run restaurant produces perfectly dry, light couscous, fragrant tagines and a lovely choice of crunchy briwats including sardine, vegetable and minced pork.

27 St Leonard's Road, Windsor, Berkshire, tel: 01753 855 370.

Comments