YILDIZ: BALLSED UP MIXED GRILL ON THE BLACKSTOCK ROAD
It had been too damn long since DH last sat across each from other staring down a plate of freshly grilled lamb and its innards. So, when HP suggested that we tail our various separate Saturday activities with a visit to one of North London’s Anatolian restaurants, I did not take much persuading.
When we met, I was already almost full to bursting after a splendid afternoon being introduced to the delights of a Jewish Shabbat meal by my new chum, Anthony Silverman and his lovely wife, Rachel. It’s not light stuff, but entirely delicious and I ate so much more than my fair share of the chopped liver with fried onions, Chollent stew and Kasha Varnishkas that, by the time I waddled out of the tube at Finsbury Park, I was convinced that I would do little more than nibble around the edges of anything we ordered that evening.
The stomach, however, is a clever, resilient and wonderful thing, and with a decent pint of London Pride in The Faltering Fullback and a quick walk down The Blackstock Road, to move things about a bit, the first sniff of grilled meats made me hungry all over again.
Yildiz is an unassuming little joint that ticks all the pre-requisite DH buttons; the grill at the front manned by a fat man paying attention to the meat, only to the meat as it pops and zizzles on skewers above hot coals. Next to him, a chiller cabinet containing more skewers of meat and trays of offal for the more adventurous and, at the back, a few tables in the dimly lit dining room.
The menu too pushed all the right buttons with the usual suspects in the line up of hot and cold starters and a promising looking selection of kebabs including their mixed grill for £13.50. It was not long before we had ordered our standard selection of a mixed grill with a side order of lamb ribs and a plate of testicles.
Starters, although obviously just there to buy time while the Ocakbasi-meister does what he do so well were not bad at all and the Ispanak and Patlican came served with bread hot from the grill and wiped across grilled meats to give it a glisten before serving. So far, so very good particularly when served with a bottle of that rather pungent Turkish wine, Villa Doluca, which has magical properties managing to tastes perfect in context, in the restaurant when eaten with a mixed grill, but then turning to piss the moment should you be silly enough to try in the cold light of day.
More’s the shame then that the main event was such a let down. It was not just that our server misunderstood and only brought us one mixed grill to share, resulting in a fierce fight and much acrimony as we tried to divide each item up equally with bitter cries of “you’ve got more fat” and “that’s my testicle” but also because, quite frankly the standard of grilling was not that good.
The plate lacked the wow factor of the very best, the Angel Mangal, of course (sigh!) and more recently Anatolia in Hackney. Lamb ribs were hot and crisp, but the offal tasted, well, awful and liver that tastes liverish is seldom a good sign. Little nuggets of organ meat, usually so prized by DH were left behind as we disconsolately poked at the plate to find bits worth eating, before we pushed ourselves back from the table with a sad sigh.
It was not cheap either, perhaps because HP, in his cups already, moved from Villa Doluca to an unnecessary bottle of Yakut, most of which remained untouched and also added a coffee at the end bringing the bill to a whopping £68 + tip, a lot to pay for iffy offal and dodgy grilling and enough to make me sorry I had strayed so far from more of that superb chopped liver.