24 Putney High Street
London SW15 1SL
Tel: 020 8780 0929
Nearest Tube: Putney Bridge
Average price per person: £25 for 2 courses including a glass of wine
It was after a lazy Sunday afternoon of drinks with good friends and good conversation when a quiet meal was called for to wind down. Walking along Putney high street, which is lined with numerous pubs, restaurants and cafes, we had the difficult task to decide where and what we were going to line our bellies with. Finally, we settled upon Kazbar – a small hidey hole of a restaurant towards Putney Bridge. For the after pub hours, it offers the pre-requisite kebabs and for the more discerning customers, it also offers a limited tasting menu on Moroccan/North African cuisine as well as a selection of delicious shishas. Highlights of the night was the shisha, with average fare offered in the most uncomfortable table/chair combinations ever.
At around 7pm on a Sunday evening, this restaurant was very much empty, save for only one other table. This long and narrow restaurant was decorated very much in the style expected of a Moroccan restaurant – low dark wood tables and dark chairs lined with richly coloured cushions. Some of the low tables in the restaurant came with cushions on the floor and all around whilst other low tables (like the one we were seated) had chairs which were the same height as the tables. A little uncomfortable, yes. We were a party of 5 and we were shown to a table of 4 and when we asked whether we could add a small side table to the end to accommodate the 5, we were politely told no. Strange for an empty restaurant but perhaps we caught the waiter in a bad mood. After 5 of us squashed in the smaller table, we were given a one page menu listing what they offered. Also, there were no wine list available – they only offered house wines and for any other drinks available, your guess is as good as mine.
For starters, Kazbar offers about 5 starters, ranging from a soup of the day, hummus and Kazbar platter (which includes differed grilled meats and kebabs). These are all priced from around £3 to £6. For the mains, you could choose from a selection of 4 couscous specials or 4 tangine specials. The couscous specials selections consisted of a lamb, chicken, vegetarian or a Royal, which consists of all a variety of meats and vegetables and served on a bed of couscous. The tangine specials selection was very similar to the couscous specials except that it was a meat mains and one had to order couscous or vegetables on the side. These mains ranged from £9 to 12 but no where one the menu did it list what the price of the sides were.
After we had placed our order (sans starters as we were all a little bloated/full), our waiter came with a complimentary plate of dips and warm pitta bread, which was a surprise. Its always nice to get something for free and even better when its good. The plate of dips consisted of hummus, a spicy eggplant/roast peppers type dip (absolutely delicious) as wells as a few olives and other goodies which we couldn’t name. (Apologies for the blurry picture – I blame the late night session before hand with the Man and the Bottomless Pit!)
With a bottle of house red and our other drinks arriving, we trying to get comfortable and enjoy the freebies was a little difficult. I’m by no means a tall person – in fact, you could say that I’m shorter than the average so I can only imagine how much more uncomfortable for other taller patrons the seating must be. Her Royal Hagness, myself and the Bottomless pit (all around the same height) had to almost bend double to hover over our plates. Not very graceful and even more difficult after a few beers. But we persevered, as always, living in hope of things to come.
Our mains arrived without too much delay and it didn’t look too bad. The Man had gone for the Couscous Royal (basically the couscous special with everything) and it arrived looked quite delicious. The grilled lamb chop, sausage and chicken lay enticing over a bed of couscous and vegetables. However, that’s probably the best it could do – lay there and look good. Taste wise, it was just average. The lamb and chicken was a little bland, although the sausage kebab was quite tasty. Although the portion looks quite large it was mainly made up of a large serving of very bland and overcooked vegetables and couscous.
The popular choice of the night was the lamb tangine with most people opting for this. This slow cooked lamb with vegetables was okay – nothing to write home about but decidedly average. I spied Her Royal Hagness being quite heavy handed with the salt and pepper during the course of the meal – not a good sign.
And finally, I had the Couscous de Fez – a chicken type stew with couscous and again, quite bland and required quite a bit of seasoning on my part. Quite filling with the couscous but really, I’m not sure if I would pay £9 for this again.
Overall, the meal itself was quite disappointing but we decided to indulge in some shisha, as we had the Bottomless Pit was a shisha virgin. Shisha is tobacco mixed with molasses and fruit flavors and is smoked in a hookah. The hookah is this very “I-dream-of-Jeanie”eque looking contraption which draws the smoke from tobacco/molasses mixture through water and is very light and flavourful with a wonderful fruity aroma. It is smoked for the flavor and not for any kind of effect. Though the most popular flavour is apple (which we’d already tried in Sugar Hut), we decided to try grape. For £8, it was quite well priced and very enjoyable.
Kazbar is quite a small locally run North African restaurant (well, that we know of) and it’s a pity that the food isn’t quite up to scratch. Aziz in Fulham is recommended if you’re in the Putney/Fulham area for similar cuisine but better quality food. But definitely come down to Kazbar and enjoy a shisha, a few drinks and whittle a few hours away with some good mates.
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