My favourite month, July, has come and gone and for my birthday, I decided to take my colleagues to Kenza, a Moroccan restaurant hidden away, down a shaded alley within the confinements of Devonshire Square, situated near Liverpool Street station.
The restaurant is underground, down a spiral staircase and makes you wonder where exactly you may end up. Regardless, we ventured downwards and found a beautifully decorated Moroccan-themed restaurant that instantly felt like we’d been transported miles away from London.
For a lunchtime, we were the first to arrive and throughout the course of our meal, the restaurant didn’t get much busier which was disappointing as this is the kind of place you’d expect a bustling atmosphere.
The menu is extensive with plenty to choose from and if you’re anything like me, may find yourself staring at the menu over and over and having extreme difficulty narrowing down your selection.
We decided to order the Mezze platter for two which arrived with hummos, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh, falafel, rice and lentil salad, sambousek jibne (pastry filled with halloumi, feta cheese and parsley), all served with pickles & home-made pita bread. The platter was larger than expected and enough to feed two hungry mouths. The standout food from the platter was the falafel and sambousek jibne.
The falafel had a brown crispy exterior, much darker than what I’ve come to expect and surprisingly, also had a green interior. Regardless, the large falafel had a delicious chickpea interior that was soft, smooth, with a subtle earthy taste and was incredibly moreish. It was a shame we had to share. The sambousek jibne also had a delicious flavour, with a powerful cheesy melt-in-the-mouth experience, finished with enough parsley to give a subtle herby aftertaste.
The rest of the mezze platter wasn’t as exciting as the rice and lentils were bland, and the mint and tomato salad was too overpowering. Both of these were left unfinished.
Since it was so good we ordered more falafel.
As there was more than 2 of us, and being the greedy souls that we are, we ordered more to share.
Another pastry starter of sambousek d’jej, which tasted extrememly similar to my favourite Indian treat; samosas. The dish brought back glorious memories of meaty, spicy goodness all wrapped with golden, crispy pastry. Yum.
As soon as I saw halloumi meshwi on the menu, I knew I needed to order the dish. The halloumi arrived beautifully presented with the tomato arranged between each slice of halloumi and finished off with olives and mint scattered generously on top. The taste matched the presentation; grilled to perfection and with the right balance of flavours.
The lamb and prune tagine was the dish I was mostly looking forward to, after all, you don’t visit a Moroccan restaurant without trying the infamous tagines. However, the dish was the most disappointing.
The lamb wasn’t as tender as I would have liked and I was expecting the sauce to be a little more sweet with the addition of the prunes. The potatoes also lacked flavour with some needing to be cooked more than others. The saving aspect of the tagine, was the sauce, which even though had the most flavour, also had faults; too runny and the ingredients hadn’t been marinated together long enough for all the flavours to have transformed into one delicious tagine. Overall, it felt like the dish had been haphazardly put together.
When Kenza does dishes right, such as the falafel and pastry dishes, the food is extraordinary and give a flavour combination to remember. However, what Kenza fails to deliver is consistency with some dishes missing the mark completely with mismatched, bland or even too overpowering flavours and it’s disappointing as I can see Kenza’s potential to create memorable food.
– Kenza, Liverpool Street