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Thursday, March 15, 2007






MANGAL OCAKBASI: BURNT OFFERINGS IN MEMORY OF MUSTAPHA

OK, I know. I keep harping on about it, but damn, I miss The Angel Mangal.

This is the last time I will mention it (for a while at least until I get another serious mixed grill jones ) but, no other place has come close before or since. No one quite gets the spicing right or grills with such attention to detail.

Not even, I am sad to say The Mangal Ocakbasi in Arcola Rd, the original and often held up by many as the best of the lot.

After failing to get a table at The Marquess Tavern, HP persuaded me to the long walk down The Balls Pond Rd and up The Kingsland Rd to The Mangal.

The queue was out of the door and their conveyor belt system was in full effect. You walks in, they tell you a table will be about five minutes (which it usually is) While you wait you points to the bits o meat in the chill cabinet that you fancy, they slam it on the grill and, by the time you sit down the food is ready to be plopped in front of you.

And there in lies the problem. It is really a café and they need to turn the tables, so the food is not prepared with anywhere near the care they were able to give it at Angel Mangal where it could take twenty minutes as Mustapha’s brother lovingly turned the skewers while dousing with lemon and spice mixes. Here it was tasty enough but charred in places and dried out. The adana was fine and had a good shot of chilli through it. But, from there it was downhill. The pinwheels of lamb were cooked so quickly they turned to rubber and the quail had dried out. Chicken wings and thighs were better, plump and juicy, but lumps of lamb loin were almost black.

We were heartened to see our chum Memhet who used to work at Angel Mangal and made all the right noises when he asked us how the food compared, but in truth, it just reminded us of how good the old place was even if it was, because of its location, twice the price.

This was as cheap as it gets in London, £25 for two including breads, a chopped tomato salad and some patlican. Even with a decent tip, it still only came to £15 a head. Which, makes me think it might be worth trying again when it is not so rammed and they can take more time over the grilling.

The search for DH’s regular grill fest home continues.
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