Today I’ve got a really good little number for you here and I’m very excited to tell you all about it!
You might have trouble believing me that you can have an excellent meal for five people in London for a total of £61.60 but as, I have found out, that’s perfectly possible!
Fez Mangal is a small but perfectly formed Turkish restaurant on Ladbroke Grove. On an unpleasant rainy evening, one of those that make you think that summer will never ever happen again, we visited with a couple of friends in tow, who had recommended this venue to us. It’s within easy walking distance of our home in Notting Hill but with the weather in mind, we drove and, to our amazement, fortuitously found a parking spot right outside the front door.
Having lived in Azerbaijan for two years where the cuisine is very similar to Turkish cooking, and not being an enthusiastic meat eater, I had my doubts as to whether the food would appeal to me. Back in Baku, the kebabs and grills were often grossly overcooked, dry and chewy, and I was not looking forward to a repeat of that kind. I am happy to say, that Fez Mangal was altogether different.
First of all, I love that the menu lists, along with the restaurant’s various dishes, the calories for each, as well as the sugar, protein and fat contents. When you know what exactly you are eating, the food tastes twice as good! Another excellent thing is that they absolutely don’t use frozen food or any products containing M.S.G. (monosodium glutamate). Good on them! I wish others would follow their example! It’s all very confidence inspiring before you’ve even ordered your dinner!
Tables are tightly packed into a small space here and there’s a glass fronted open grill kitchen right at the entrance. It’s busy and buzzing and, on the perfectly ordinary weekday night when we were there, every table was occupied. Even so, service was very friendly and smiley and our waitress wasn’t fazed in the slightest when we started making pernickety bespoke choices rather than ordering from the menu.
Although all of us were hungry, the huge portions of our fellow diners soon persuaded us to forsake the Meze starters, good as they looked, and go straight in for main courses. Our men both ordered Iskender, lamb in tomato sauce with yoghurt and butter, us women chose Cop Shish, marinated, grilled small cubes of lamb, and Chicken Shish, marinated, grilled chicken pieces, respectively, both with good portions of herby yoghurt and minty tabbouleh, accompanied by a bread basket with some fabulously spongey flatbread alongside.
All the meat was tender and juicy, beautifully seasoned and not a bit greasy, the yoghurt creamy with a suitably tart edge and the tabbouleh fresh as a daisy; our men’s tomato sauces were satisfyingly spiced and all the dishes were simply delicious from A to Z.
Despite the fact we could barely move after these generous offerings, we couldn’t resist indulging in the bakhlava with our Turkish coffees afterwards, and this was so good, so honey soaked and pistachio stuffed, that we had to order a second helping. Helpfully, there was no calorie listing for these or we might have sensibly restrained ourselves!
At Fez Mangal, you can eat in or take away, so our friends, feeling a little guilty that they had left their son behind with a plate of cheese and crackers for supper while we had all indulged ourselves so utterly thrillingly, ordered a take out to bring back for him.
As I’ve already mentioned at the start of this post, our final bill for five large main courses plus two double portions of bakhlava and two coffees came to just over £60, i.e. around £12 a head! Quite incredible by London standards! Alcoholic drinks are not included as this is a BYO restaurant which, however, does not charge corkage fees and there is no service charge either.
If you find yourself in Notting Hill, hungry and in need of some seriously good food at prices that will not strain your wallet, grab yourself a bottle of wine and head over to this little gem of a place. You will not regret it!
Fez Mangal and Turkish Kebab House, 104 Ladbroke Road, London W11 1PY Tel.: 020 7229 3010 www.fezmangal.com