The Kazbar spread a sleazy smile across my face, like warm tetilla smeared across a crusty bocadillo. The shining sun lit up the riad-esque interior, flooding back hazy memories of Marrakesh. The orange washed walls, shimmering tiles and shabby chic furniture, created a unique, bohemian setting. This, combined with a zippy live band and hardworking, happy staff, produced a vibrant atmosphere that I was in no rush to escape from.
The annoyingly handsome beatnik main server provided genuine rapport throughout; his straightforward but conscientious approach was amicable without being overbearing. All The Kazbar’s Señoritas cheerfully glided around, although when one spilt an over-poured margarita over the table, her lack of resolution or even acknowledgement was irksome.
Cocktails are obligatory. I salute The Kazbar for having the rare decency to produce proper Margaritas (the drink, not the pizza). As requested, the venomous Bloody Mary didn’t take any prisoners. Sherry should also not be forgotten, magically pairing with everything in the tapas world. The Dry Amontillado was good value and perfectly sippable without food. The Manzanilla was the driest drink in the world; worth a try, but an acquired taste.
Some Kazbar dishes were better than others. The wonderfully light Smoked Mackerel Pate was the unexpected delicious highlight. The Prawns & Chorizo billed as the main event, were rather anaemic in a watery tomato sauce. The Moroccan Lamb, Beef & Harissa Sausage was the kind of tapas dish everyone wanted; ballsy (metaphorically, I hope), with a satisfyingly rich meaty flavour. The Gambas were adequate, but not inspiring. The Pig’s Cheek dutifully fell apart, with a beautiful depth of flavour. The Spiced Minced Lamb & Hummus was tasty, authentic but lukewarm. Some mysterious Latino Mozzarella substance from the specials board was divine. The well formed Membrillo Cheesecake graciously introduced two of my favourite things – Licor 43 and quince jelly. Finally, the Marrakesh Express commendably combined coffee and dessert with a delicious cinnamon finish.
The Kazbar’s squeaky clean plates spoke for themselves, my wallet didn’t feel violated, and I’m yet to review another a restaurant in Oxford with a warmer atmosphere – bravo!
The Kazbar Oxford
Atmosphere 10 Cost 7 Quality 7 Service 9