Azou // Hammersmith // London

Ask a North African where he or she thinks the best place to eat a tagine is, and the answer will invariably be, “at home”. For those Londoners who don’t possess a cherished family recipe or aren’t interested in cooking, there is a cunning, dishes-free alternative; Azou in Hammersmith.

Ideal for a night-out with friends or family, Azou’s menu showcases flavours from across the whole Maghreb. That means you’ll not only get to feast on the Moroccan dishes you know and love, but you’ll get to sample some Tunisian and Algerian cuisine too.

Starters are for sharing at Azou so the more the merrier. Order the omelette-cum-pancake brik, filled with egg, potato and tuna if you want something tasty and new. The baba ganoush is smoky and deep while the briouat triangles of filo pastry, filled with melting brie and goat’s cheese are very naughty (and gratifying). All of the starters offer contrasting textures and flavours to get you warmed-up for the main event.

While you soak in the atmosphere of dining under a richly coloured tent, prepare yourself for your tagine, cous-cous or grilled dish. The fish tagine is an unusual option, which won’t disappointed you. The sauce, slightly made sour with preserved lemons is the perfect delicate flavour to show-off a mix of white fish chucks and king prawns. The more traditional lamb shank tagine is served in a deep, fragrant sauce which stands-up to the flavour of the tender meat. Prunes and apricots provide some balancing sweet notes with almonds giving some crunch.

While simple tagines and other North African dishes may be easy to whip up at home, Azou adds so much more value by adding nuanced Mediterranean flourishes, which the home chef would struggle to replicate. And why bother when Azou does it so well for such a good price?

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