"It's not much but it's ours"

Friday, July 30, 2010


One of the continuing quests of Dos Hermanos is to find a replacement ocakbaşi restaurant for the late, much missed Angel Mangal which quite simply did the best Turkish style mixed grill in London.

Some have come close: Testi was enjoyable with its smoky-flavoured meats and an interesting selection of lambs bits. Anatolia was even better with good fatty meat and generous portions. Some were poor or merely disappointing like the popular Mangals 1 and 2 in Stoke Newington which have always seemed a bit whitebread to us.

Meze Mangal has been on our radar for a while but its location (I mean, South of the river AND New Cross/Brockley borders??? It just ain’t gonna happen) mitigated against a visit, however the opening of the shiny new East London line meant journeying between the wilds of South East London and fashionable Shoreditch is now a doddle.

So it was that I found myself sitting outside The Talbot pub drinking a well-kept pint of Rudgate Ruby Mild with buddies Scott and Gavin – the latter who has now forsaken his preacher look for that of Mob accountant. He was very reluctant to remove his tie.

Meze Mangal is one of an anonymous strip of shops on the main drag and as we approached I did begin to wonder how well I’d chosen. Once inside though I felt immediately at home. The place was packed and buzzing: a good sign. There, the ocakbaşi master at his grill, concentrating intently whilst tending skewers of lamb sis and adana threaded on flat blades; a metal dome for cooking the flatbreads; over there, the oven for cooking Pide and Lahmacun.

Laminated menus were dispensed but my dining chums deferred to me for the ordering. A quick scan and I located the special mixed kebab, pleasingly appended “with quail".

To begin with some starters to keep us distracted while our meats were grilled. A cold salad, Patlican Soslu, chunky and oily (in a good way) and a plate of alarmingly coloured tarama with two sorts of their hot bread and lashings of the Buzbag (believe me Turkish wine while not the best goes perfectly with this sort of food).

Eventually, the main event arrived, a large platter, piled high with meats interspersed with peppers and a large plate of salad. We ate Dos Hermanos style which meant that each person in turn got to nominate a piece of meat and the others have to follow suit. This ensures a fair distribution of said meats but still allowing for the element of surprise wherein a chosen piece might be quite small. This usually leads to much joshing and merriment amongst those who have chosen larger bits. All great fun.

In the taste stakes vying for first place were the Adana - perfect texture with spicing just so - and the freshly grilled quail halves which were hot, sticky and salty. I could have done with a little more of the other lamb components but ribs and chops were done well with crisp fat and properly seasoned. Kidneys were a little over pink but fresh tasting and not at all rubbery.

Cop Sis was good too although it's always at the bottom of the pile and by the time you get to it you're usually stuffed. Too full as well to try the base layer of bread which had soaked up all the meaty juices although it didn't go to waste as they kindly bagged that and the little of the meat that was left.

Grilled Peppers had a good char giving them a beautifully smoky taste followed by a surprisingly big heat kick. Salad was a bit style over substance, majored in cucumber and remained mostly untouched: not a patch on the composed salads at AM although I’m always pleased to see a little sprinkling of sumac.

We finished with three good medium Turkish coffees, some lokum and a bill that we vastly overestimated. Most of the difference went into the tip that was well deserved as the service had been so friendly, willing and attentive.

So there we have it – what started out as tentative foray into regions unknown ended up as a classic DH night out of old: a few pints of mild and a trip to a Mangal which if not perfect got all the important things right. Not quite up there with our best ever but bloody close. That’ll do for me.

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Anonymous Ben said...

Always mildly terrifying to see an established reviewer visiting a favourite haunt. Glad it passed muster. It's a short walk for me and I get there as often as I can. Last time was a couple of months ago with your mob accountant friend! Glad to see he's prepared for a return visit. Give me a shout if you're planning one too. I like the sound of the DH lottery...

Saturday, July 31, 2010 12:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Helen said...

Yep, I agree. It's not life changing but it is solid and handy for us SE Londoners. Well done for venturing to Lewisham you brave soldier you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 12:48:00 pm  
Blogger Kavey said...

I bloody LOVE a good patlican soslu! Sometimes I order a second portion to takeaway for lunch the next day!

Luckily we have a range of ocakbasi within few minutes of us which also do a mean job with their grilled meats and various other menu dishes.


Saturday, July 31, 2010 5:21:00 pm  
Blogger Hollow Legs said...

I'm very pleased to have Meze Mangal as my local - it's always packed out, and I believe they are now extending it. It's not all bad south east ;)

Saturday, July 31, 2010 6:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last thing we need endorsements from trendy northern buggers shoo go away there's nothing for you here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 7:54:00 pm  
Blogger Gavin said...

"trendy northern buggers". Bet that's the nicest compliment you've had all week Rob.

Been on a BorisBike yet?

Sunday, August 01, 2010 5:55:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Hehe - too late the secret is out and we're going to visit in hordes! And the owner told us we could bring our own uykuluk - bliss.


Sunday, August 01, 2010 7:49:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

In my life more like. I presume Anon is referring to N1- i don't know anywhere trendy north of Watford.


PS My fob is primed and ready but as yet unused

Sunday, August 01, 2010 9:39:00 pm  
Anonymous SamB_UK said...

I live opposite Meze Mangal, and it's our regular place when we do eat out locally, particularly if we have friends staying. I love its incongruity on such an otherwise ordinary stretch. I do with they'd get rid of the big container outside though!

Friday, August 06, 2010 11:23:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...


I'm sure it's there to weed out the lightweights from the true aficionados of which you are obviously a member.

Happy Eating!


Saturday, August 07, 2010 12:39:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's good but Levante and Levante II on Lewisham High Street are better. The best in London is however Izgara... up in Finchley!

Saturday, August 07, 2010 1:36:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the MM. BUT I feel compelled to say that the last time I was there, sitting at the table for 2 up against the oven wall, just where the nice man is rolling out the pide, a cockroach crept out of the crack in the bricks and walked across our table. Moving our bread basket made it run away. I like the MM and I didn't say anything. Just don't sit near the oven wall!

Saturday, August 07, 2010 11:34:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Anon 1 - Thanks for the tips we shall try them out.

Anon 2 - You're not from one of Anon 1's recommended gaffs by any chance? Hmmmm???

Sunday, August 08, 2010 1:17:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From anon 2: No I've no axe to grind, just trying to be helpful. It would be naive to think that restaurants and hotels, bars and hospitals are
cockroach free, I just don't like them walking on my table. I've tried the Levante and the other newer one in Lewisham, neither of them are as good as the MM.

Monday, August 09, 2010 6:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Jon Tseng said...

Guys... You really have to try the FM Mangal in Camberwell. Some of the old Angel Mangal guys are there.

The grilling is spectacular and the apple tea isn't bad either. I rate it on a par with Angel.

The only thing - no sweetbreads, although they can order them in.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010 3:29:00 pm  

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