This fifth branch of the growing restaurant chain Del Aziz, brings a colourful and tasty slice of the Mediterranean to an obscure area of Bermondsey.
The venue is seamlessly divided into restaurant, bar, delicatessen, bakery and gift shop. Chunky wooden tables, dark orange walls and pink velvet curtains help to create an exotic, semi-boudoir ambiance that lures you away from the lackluster buildings of Bermondsey. Whilst reading the menu of savoury delights, we sip on refreshing virgin-cocktails, spiced up with cinnamon and sweetened with honey, and munch on tasty olives. The menu covers food from an impressive array of countries; Greece, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon and Persia. There’s a wide choice of cold and hot mezze that would sufficiently lend itself to a feast of Mediterranean tapas suited for the hungriest of diners. The mains are divided into ‘charcoal grill’, ‘hob and oven’, ‘catch of the day’ and ‘burgers’ and include tagines, cous cous, kebabs and mixed grilled platters – there’s definitely something for everyone.
To start with we opt for the Persian Mirza Ghassemi, a garlicky, tomato and aubergine dip scraped up with fresh bread chosen from the roving bread basket. A salty Kasaar cheese and mint Boreck arrives with creamy yogurt and a plate of silky chicken livers smothered in pomegranate molasses is a winning combination of sweet, bitter and sour. The staff buzz around brimming with enthusiasm and when they whisk away the practically licked up plate of chicken livers, they smile knowingly. Our main course takes some time to arrive, during which time my eyes wander around the restaurant and notice that for a Monday night, the place is fairly packed. Families, couples and local workers are all enjoying their shared mezzes and dishes with such gusto and for a second it does actually feel like I’m in a decent tourist haunt in Turkey. Our main course finally arrives in the form of a lamb and prune tagine served with fluffy cous-cous and a dish of grilled Tiger prawns with chilli and lime. The prawns are the most expensive dish on the menu, priced at £18, yet despite their huge tubby and mouth-watering appearance, they turn out to be disappointingly bland. Not to worry, as the spicy sauté potatoes they come with are incredibly addictive and happily fill up every crevice of my stomach.
There is no dessert menu at Del Aziz. Instead you are encouraged to mosey over to the delicatessen, where your pupils can enlarge at the sight of tall gateauxs, tarts, meringues, pastries, swiss rolls, cookies and cakes. It’s all rather a lot to take in, especially when you turn around to find yourself indeed in the centre of a make-believe Mediterranean marketplace. There are piles of freshly baked bread, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate and tempting confectionery. And then there are more distractions in the form of hand painted ceramic plates, tea pots, Mediterranean cookbooks and bespoke goodie hampers. It’s certainly a tactful move, enticing diners when they are merrily dizzy with good food and drink. However I manage to stay strong and order just the moist orange and walnut cake, which is so huge it succumbs to the bottom of a doggy bag.
Del Aziz is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and with a delicious selection of food on offer, all reasonably priced. It’s strong point without a doubt, is that it’s the kind of place that is suitable for everyone and fits the bill for plenty of occasions. A reliable and tasty contender to the restaurant chain ladder, it brightens up this off-the-beaten-track area of Bermondsey.
Three course dinner for two, not including wine will set you back by £40-50.
Reviewer: Leila Sarraf