The new Southgate restaurant that takes grilling seriously

Neil Littman visits newly-opened Zgara and enjoys a feast of grilled goods

Chicken with grilled vegetables
Chicken with grilled vegetables

I was recently thinking about the pros and cons of eating out on my own. About half the time I manage to find somebody to go with and, as I don’t eat red meat, it’s good to have a dining companion with different tastes to try other dishes.

It was reported recently that some high-end West End establishments are charging solo diners double for eating on their own. One venue is the two Michelin-starred Hotel Café Royal near Regent Street, which charges £350 to diners who want to eat solo, the same price two would pay for the £175 tasting menu.

Fortunately, nobody in Enfield has thought this a good idea and, in any case, I think you would be hard pushed to spend that amount (even including cocktails) almost anywhere in the borough. Personally, I think solo diners should always be welcome.

I recently decided to check out Zgara, Southgate’s new opening (something of a rarity). It is now also one of the few local restaurants to open on a Monday.

Located on the site of a former coffee shop at The Broadway in Southgate, Zgara is a welcome addition to the area and features a well-designed interior with parquet flooring, copper downlighters and banquettes. Background music on my visit was a mix of europop and Balkan guitar tunes.

On their website Zgara describe themselves as a grill restaurant, so I was expecting meat to take centre-stage on the menu, which it did – but with a catch. The menu is concise with about a dozen hot and cold starters but several of the 20 or so main courses are priced between £45 and £70, with a number in brackets to indicate they are for sharing between three or four people. This made the solo dining experience a little tricky and left me with few options.

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While I was happy to order a grilled chicken dish served with peppers and asparagus, I was also surprised to see there were no vegetarian or vegan options. It seems they are serious about their grilled meat.

When I asked a member of staff what kind of restaurant Zgara was, she told me it was ‘Mediterranean’. Although, investigating a bit further, I looked up the meaning of the word Zgara and discovered it is the Albanian word for ‘grill’.

My starter of tzatziki was preceded by a plate of three appetisers served with warm sourdough bread, plus a side order of ‘roast potatoes’ which were parboiled then grilled and dressed with olive oil, lemon and herbs but were very nice, nonetheless. The tzatziki contained chopped green peppers like the ones that accompany Turkish dishes, which added a nice kick.

Both the food and the service at Zgara are good, but there was no drinks menu (their alcohol licence was pending at the time I visited) nor dessert menu (although one dessert was available to order).

The bill for two courses plus beer and service came to a reasonable £29, with a rather quirky touch on the receipt which still has the name of the former coffee shop printed on it! They told me they have been very busy at weekends, so booking may be advisable.

Zgara can be found at 7 The Broadway, Southgate N14 6P and is open 11am-11pm Monday to Saturday, plus Sundays 10am-11pm. For more information and to book a table:
Call 0203 751 5534
Visit zgara.co.uk

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