Where: Hampstead Heath

Cuisine: Turkish

Swank levels: 2/5 but...

Zara doesn’t aim for a swanky feel, instead it provides a comfortable and homely setting for diners. As you enter the restaurant diners will feel like they are walking into someone’s home, with terracotta floor tiles, cushioned benches lining the sides of the room and Turkish lamps dotted across the ceiling adding to the cosy layout.

This snug atmosphere is perfect for a winter night in with a steaming bowl of food. But what’s even better is the rear section of the restaurant designed for those who want to linger in warmth. It is a cosy sky lit area surrounded by, musical instruments, book shelves and gilt mirrors. In addition they also provide chess and back gammon, use of which is encourages in the ‘Siesta Hour’, between 3pm-6pm during which free Turkish Delight is served.

Would I Want Seconds?

The Menu offers traditional Turkish dishes, as instantly recognised by the names on the menu. The choice is not simply meat heavy, as can be the case in some Turkish restaurants, as there are sufficient options for vegetarians. There are also different sizes for dishes available for those with varying appetites, including, hot and cold mezza, main courses and traditional Anatolian dishes.

Popular dishes include tender islim kebab (diced lamb wrapped with aubergine, peppers and tomatoes), or delicious güveç chicken (baked with vegetables) and kuzu firin (baked lamb).

The food is hearty yet delicately spiced, which means it doesn’t surprise on flavours. However Zara does not aim to be daring with its food, they focus on the traditional best.

Could I afford seconds?

For a local restaurant, prices are higher than expected. The main courses range from £10 to £15, but with their devoted base of regular customers (including Bill Oddie) they can get away with charging these prices. The Mezza options are slightly more affordable at £3.50 to £4.50.

Overall: 3/5

Zara makes an ideal location for a laid back dinner, with its comfortable setting, helpful and friendly staff, and of course Traditional Turkish dishes.


Square Meal

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