Tel: +44 (0)20 8563 7266
Address: 375 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9NJ
Cuisine Type: North African
nearest tube station Stamford Brook

If gorgeous, succulent, reasonably priced North African fare is what you’re craving, start planning your visit to Azou – a Hammersmith-area gem specialising in Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cuisine.

Proprietors and husband and wife team Chris and Christine will take care of you from the moment you step in the door. The modern Berber music, their friendly service, relaxed conversation and careful attention to detail will effortlessly transport you from the world outside. Chris might also teach you a few French words along the way…

Settle into the cozy, colourful, dimly lit space (you’d never know a major road was just outside) with a glass or two from the French and Moroccan wine selections (£2.70 / £3.70 per glass; £10.00 – £20.50 per bottle, including the lovely Chateauneuf du Pape), a Moroccan bottled beer, or detox with a pot of refreshing mint tea.

Even if you’re not famished, succumb to the temptation of sampling a few of Azou’s many intriguing kemia or starters (£1.50 – £4.90). We heartily devoured the foules Mesdames, a warm salad of broad beans, tomato, onion and chickpeas and the Tunisian brik, a crisp pastry filled with potato, tuna and egg. Don’t forget the ever-popular falafel, hummus and baba ganoush, which are expertly and lovingly prepared here.

Main courses (£8.50 – £15.50) accommodate meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, but if you adore lamb, this is definitely the place for you. The tagines we tried were absolutely perfect – one of the very few places where the lamb was carefully stripped away of any excess fat leaving a superbly delicate and generous morsel. The tagine Casablanca – lamb with artichoke hearts and peas – was truly memorable, as was the tagine okra – lamb with (surprise, surprise) luscious okra. Various couscous, fish and chicken dishes on the menu are also sure to impress.

To be frank, our meals were so delectable and filling, we didn’t – unusually – have room for dessert (£3.50). However, to satisfy a nagging sweet tooth, choose from a selection of North African cakes, organic ice creams (like saffron!) or lemon sorbet.

For bargain hunters, lunch and dinner is on offer at Azou, most days with a splendid-looking prix fixe menu (2 courses at £10.00; 3 courses at £12.50).

As the evening came to a close – sadly – I couldn’t resist asking the meaning of the eatery’s name. As it happens, Azou is roughly translated to mean “cherishing” or “to cherish”. Given our wholly delightful experience, how appropriate.

– Sue Couter, 2/2004

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