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Pasha, Kensington SW7

Moroccan Cuisine is all the rage - Louise Elgin reports

Editor's note: Pasha has long been one of Dine Online's favourite restaurants. Indeed I always make a point of taking my American Culinary Arts students there for a taste of North Africa. Our latest meal there in July 2006 was a great success. It has recently been transformed, as Louise will tell you...

Pasha is a sexy and seductive place. As soon as you walk in it’s like being transported far away from the daily grind of London and into a world of North African opulence and colour. The ground floor bar has enticing: soft low lighting, intricately carved tables, scarlet coloured cushions, incense and authentic music all create a highly atmospheric venue. I tried a “Pasha Cocktail”, a sublime mix of vodka, mint, coriander, lemon juice, ginger beer and champagne. It was stunning, in fact so good I had to have a second before making my way downstairs to the restaurant, which was also furnished in the same exotic manner. Our table was set in its own secluded alcove, surely one of the most romantic spots in London. It had an intimate feel, complete with curved cushioned seating, flickering tea candles and rose petals, making it a perfect nook to take someone you want to woo seriously. The resident chef, David Jones has recently returned from a sojourn in Morocco. There he stayed with family friends of the owner who not only taught him generation old family recipes and also helped him to perfect his authentic Moroccan culinary style.

We began with a selection of hot and cold Kemia, a choice of small dishes from which there are 40 to choose between on the menu. The best way to eat this sort of food is with your fingers and plenty of traditional yoghurt crusted Moroccan brioche. A beautiful platter arrived containing a choice of eight hot and cold dishes, including a smoky aubergine dip, with cumin and coriander, a tasty roasted carrot salad, scallops with pimentos encased in savoury pasty parcels, spicy merguez sausage and a minced chicken kefta with almonds and saffron broth.

On the wine front we decided to take the “When in Rome” approach and opted for a Lebanese wine, Chateau Ksara, trying both the gris gris rosé and the blanc de blanc, which proved good choices on both counts and scored high marks. After such a huge amount of starters we kept our main courses minimal, trying some fabulous light seared tuna with lemon confit, roasted peppers and rocket and some ultra tender char grilled meats, including marinated skewers of chicken and char grilled marinated lamb that was served with a roasted pepper and chilli tomato sauce. Towards the end of our evening a little drama was added to our soirée arrived in the form of several beautiful belly dancers, the music went up quite a bit and for a few minutes they sashayed away seductively. It all got a bit loud and raucous with general enthusiasm from the diners and I wonder if I hadn’t been cocooned away in my private dining room if I might have found the whole episode a little overpowering. Oh dear, I sound such a square!

Pudding for me was a feather light almond bastilla, made with a millefeuille of filo pastry served with a vanilla crème anglais sauce which I would highly recommend. Our other choice, a pomegranate and mint sorbet was typically on the sugary side but was otherwise good. Coffee and or mint tea comes with a magnificent selection of Petits Fours including Turkish Delight and Baklava.

Pasha is a bit of a unique evening out. I had certainly never been anywhere like it before and if you enjoy a sensual and spirited dining experience I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Louise Elgin. July 2006. (see also Louise's October 2006 review of sister restaurant Levant)

A meal with wine and water is about £100 for two

Pasha 1 Gloucester Road London SW7 Tel: 020 7589 7969


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