When this branch of the well-established Shepherd’s Bush original opened in 2009, the number of good Syrian restaurants in London doubled. In many ways the newer Abu Zaad is a generic Edgware Road Middle Eastern restaurant – no alcohol , tiled interior, big ornate lanterns, Arabic satellite TV, nutty music – but the menu lists many brilliantly executed Damascene dishes seldom seen in London.
A bowl of fattet hommos (£3.75) comprises chickpeas, crisp fried pieces of flatbread, and garlicky yoghurt, garnished with paprika and chopped parsley, served warm. Another vegetarian, main-sized starter is the hara isbah (£3.75), pasta strips cooked up with tamarind and lentil, mixed up with more of that crisp fried bread, then topped with fresh coriander leaves and big chunks of red-hued radish pickle.
Of course, the grilled meats are good too – minced lamb kebabs, for example, can be eaten wth a side order of freekeh (green, roasted wheat from the Levant) – but it’s the more unusual dishes, such as molokhia (Egyptian-style jute leaves – slightly bitter, slightly slimy – cooked with peices of chicken: £6) that differentiate it from the Lebanese norm.