Restaurant review: Zada - vegetarian moussaka, what was I thinking?

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford
Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

This week’s review left me feeling like I had been to a gig and given the headliners a miss to watch the support act instead.

That is not to say I didn’t enjoy lunch at Zada, the relatively new Turkish restaurant in Stamford.

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

But it brought about a realisation that my love for Turkish food - at Zada where I have dined previously, and at Efes and Turkish Kitchen in Peterborough - is based on my love of the meat grilled over charcoal.

I do like the hot and cold meze, the bread and even the beer, but I just adore what cooking over coals brings to the plate whether it is chicken, lamb, steak - even the fish for that matter.

So, a vegetarian moussaka, what was I thinking?

For those that don’t know Zada can be found on St Mary’s Hill, has a very subtle “Stamfordy” exterior and inside there are beautiful Turkish lamps, rugs on the walls and the smells you have been hoping for.

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

There are lots of authentic sounding starters and you can pretty much get a taste of all of them with a meze platter for two.

We went with hot meze which came nicely presented - seven little clay bowls plus a lovely yogurt dip (£10.50) and a plate of bread, fresh and warm (£1.50) .

It was all very enjoyable, the pick being the kalamar - squid rings with a tasty, slightly crisp batter, and the borek - lovely, flaky filo pastry wraps filled with feta cheese and parsley.

One thing I do enjoy from the cold meze selection is the wonderful smoked aubergine (patlican salata), which is where the inspiration for the moussaka (£9.50) came from.

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

Brad Barnes dines at Zada in Stamford

It came with a fresh, cleansing salad with lots of crispy, shredded lettuce and chunks of cucumber and a tasty dressing and some rice.

The bechemel cheese topping was the highlight of a dish that was just too dominated by the tomato sauce. Yes, there was plenty of peppers and mushrooms, layers of potatoes and aubergines but sadly lacked a wow factor, some herbs or spices to bring it to life.

It was also incredibly hot.

Donna made the right decision and went with the chicken shish main course (£10.50). Marinated chunks of moist chicken with that extra little bit of charcoal-induced flavour. It too came with a salad, and rice, and neither would win awards for presentation.

The service was excellent - polite and helpful - and it certainly passes the “will I go back there again” test... but I have a feeling it might be for the adana kofte or the lamb shish.

Venue: Zada Restaurant, 13 St Mary’s Hill, Stamford PE9 2DP tel 01780 766848

Brad’s rating: 8