In the middle of Dalston Square, a gleaming glassy complex that wouldn’t look amiss in the City (but is actually only a two-minute walk from Dalston Junction station), sits new Turkish restaurant ‘le ziz’. The sister restaurant to Canary Wharf’s Hazev, it’s the second joint venture from the Tas and Haz restaurant groups, and has been tipped as one to watch by those in the know.
The interior was tastefully decorated; a mix of wooden panelling and Iznik-print wallpaper and tiles. The low lighting gave the place a relaxed but somewhat intimate ambiance and the general vibe seemed to be one of laid-back, comfortable dining. I was excited to see if it would live up to first impressions.
They had a couple of birthday celebrations going on that evening and after some confusion as to whether we were a part of one such celebration, they dumped us, rather unceremoniously, on a table and took our drinks order. We accepted our waiter’s offer of a ‘special punch’ (it tasted remarkably like a Woo Woo) but they had all the classic cocktails on offer as well as an extensive wine list, with beers, champagnes and spirits too.
I previously said the initial vibe I got was one of laid-back, comfortable dining, but as the evening progressed I would amend that to say the vibe was actually fairly unfriendly. We were left forgotten in a corner, with staff continually forgetting to take our orders, clear our plates between courses or offer us anything more to drink. At one point I had to go and inform a member of staff that we were in fact, still there. Admittedly the two large dinner parties may have had a part to play but given we were seated right next to one of them I would be disinclined to use this as a reason to excuse them entirely.
However, I love Turkish food and for Le Ziz, that might just be their saving grace. Their website boasts it’s where ‘taste meets its climax’ which is bold and, in my opinion, overreaching but our meal was, dare I say it, flavourful. Borek (filo pastry with spinach and cheese) and Dolma (stuffed vine leaves with rice) to start were both quite tasty, although it was the complimentary bread and tzatziki that stole the show. They have a wide-ranging selection of mains including a number of healthier options with salads and bulgar wheat. But it was the beginning of the weekend and therefore we chose the more indulgent Beyti Sarma (well-spiced, minced lamb wrapped in lavas bread) and the Karisik Seafood Guvec, which was essentially an assortment of shellfish and mushrooms in a creamy garlicky sauce. They were both well-flavoured dishes that I would happily order again although the large portion sizes did defeat us somewhat. For desert (once they actually took our order) we had the Muhallebeli Kadayif which tasted something like the creamy base of a crème brûlée topped with sweet shredded wheat, don’t be put off by my simplistic description it was really delicious.
To sum up, the restaurant itself looked inviting and the food was of a good standard but the service was quite possibly the worst I have ever encountered and unfortunately that marred my opinion of the whole evening. I am however, willing to propose that it was simply an unfortunate night and would concede that if the service was (drastically) improved, I might recommend a visit.