Big helpings, low prices and a rollickingly relaxed setting are the draws at this capacious Syrian venue near Shepherd’s Bush Market.
Groups of teenagers, young families and couples after a quick, fuss-free meal seem to find this vast Syrian restaurant a convenient destination. The boisterous clientele, together with Abu Zaad’s relaxed café-style seating, TV screens and what seems like an army of zippy waiters lend the place a pleasantly chaotic air. Service is pretty slick, though, and although the restaurant is often furiously busy, you’re unlikely to have trouble getting seated at one of the plentiful tables – probably next to a garish painting of Old Damascus or near an ornamental brick arch. In keeping with the informality, the menu is cheap and portions huge. A sharing meze of cold starters – including parsley-packed tabouleh and lashings of thick houmous – would have been a filling meal in itself. Mains are hardly of modest dimensions either: a tomato rice maklouba (topped and filled with chunks of lamb and slivers of fried aubergine) would have been enough for two; and a grilled lamb kebab came with rice, bread and salad. There’s a no-alcohol policy, but you can wash down the carbs with a glass of salty yoghurt ayran or a freshly squeezed juice, and round off the meal with a pot of mint tea.