Friday, 30 October 2009


With friends living around the corner, we've often found ourselves getting a carnivorous hit at Mangal, the no-fuss Turkish Ocakbasi off the Kingsland Road in Dalston, East London.

'Ocakbasi' translates as fireside, or open fire, and that's the first thing you see, an open charcoal grill smoldering and dominating the entrance alongside rows of raw kebabs waiting for their fate.

This is a welcoming BYO place, and every time a group of us venture in the tightly squeezed wooden tables always packed (although you can take away, too). The menu is meat, needless to say. Meat, any way you like it: on the bone, cubed, marinated, flash-grilled, minced. If you're ravenous there are a few Turkish sides and starters, the patlican salata with their warm homemade bread being the standout dish. I recommend keeping it simple on your first visit, making sure you have room for every morsel of flame-crusted meat.

A plate of delicious baklava delivered with a friendly pat on the back from the waiter, is a sweet conclusion to an excellent meal. If you rate first-class ingredients, cooked simply, with skill and respect, you've come to the right place. (Note of caution: they don't take cards, but given you'll be hard pushed to spend over a tenner each, it would be churlish to complain!)

Kingsland Road, the focal point of uber-trendy, chic-but-shabby Dalston is filled to bursting with Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Turkish restaurants, cafes, and takeaways. If you're looking for unpretentious, diverse, authentic tastes, head here rather than risk mediocre imitations in zone 1.

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