Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Review - Mangal Ocakbasi

I don't really eat anywhere bad anymore. It's because I always go to places which are supposed to be good but still reasonably priced. Still, while there might be lots of incredibly hyped up restaurants in London, occasionally, one lives up to all the hype. Mangal Ocakbasi is one such restaurant. My dear friend Petal (also known as Earnest) turned twenty two. To celebrate, she wanted to go to the cinema but I had class all day the next day so couldn't commit to a whole film. Funnily enough, I got so drunk that the next day was entirely written off ('a dark day') so we could've gone to the cinema but I'm glad we went for dinner here instead. As we were trotting along Stoke Newington Road discussing the relative attractiveness of various tube lines (Northern hottest, Overground butterest) we found that the map was directing us down a sketchy alley. With heightened spidey senses we sauntered bravely (but not that bravely, we were in hipster central after all) down said alley. At the end was a luminescent sign reading 'Mangal'. The bravest adventures always pay off. We were greeted by stacks and stacks of tender young meats. After a very brief wait, we were seated. Most things on the menu involve meat and grilling. (They do all come with salad and bread though.) There are some more vegetably looking mezzes and also about four bigger vegetarian mains. We opted for the mixed grill and an aubergine based mezze.

First came a glorious fluffy basket of bread. The bread actually BOUNCED. And you could taste the grill on it. It was amazing. We mopped up the Mediterranean vegetables dripping attractively in olive oil with this bread. There was natural yoghurt whose culture cut through the strength of the oil and aubergine.
Then came the mixed grill. I'm glad we only went for one; it was the perfect amount for two greedy girls. Quail, lamb chop, kofta, chicken. Everything uniformly scored and charred. The delicious mountain of meat obscured the vale of carefully cut salad: radish, lettuce, tomato (grilled), pickled chilli, shredded carrot. It looked almost regal. Now, in honour of the girl that I shared this meal with, I'm going to straddle the food/sex blog boundary. The meat was firm, a towering erection of glistening flesh. Everything was juicy and moist, tender and succulent. I'm not just saying that to gross you out. It really was. The skin was crisp and smoky and to reveal the piping hot inside. A hum of chilli came from the marinaded kofta and that combined with the pickled chilli to give a real kick to the dish. The gaminess of the quail was an interesting diversion but worked just as well. Their method really let the natural ingredients sing. The kebabs were all bursting with meatiness and the salad epitomised its health and vitality. Let's all move to Turkey.

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