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A Battersea restaurant dishing out classy kebabs.
Is there such a thing as a classy kebab joint? According to this Battersea newbie, there is. Pride of place is a bespoke charcoal grill complete with sections for ‘slow-burning’ and ‘intense heat’. It’s a smoking, serious piece of kit. It says: yes, we make kebabs, but not as you know them.
Ingredients are carefully sourced and lovingly prepped. There are just four ‘fillings’ – saffron and orange chicken, beef shortrib, lamb shoulder or broad bean falafel – served either over a grilled flatbread, or with their rustic take on a fattoush salad. But, like I said, these are no ordinary kebabs.
First of all, portions are generous: you could easily come just for mains, if it wasn’t for the fact that the starters are too good to skip (more on these later). Flavours are equally big: full of Middle Eastern spicing and fresh, zingy herbs.
A pile of melt-in-the-mouth, slow-rotisseried lamb was served over two kinds of shredded cabbage and pepped up with red onion and parsley. There are sweet, crisp ‘pomegranate onions’ (red onion chunks roasted in pomegranate molasses) and two ‘house sauces’: a tongue-in-cheek take on kebab house classics (‘red’ is a harissa-and-garlic-laced tomato number, ‘green’ a herby yoghurty one, with a hint of garlic). And if you swap your bread for the ‘fattoush’, your plate suddenly looks refreshingly healthy, full of colour and crunch.
But anyway, those starters. From the two-tone ‘dip’ of good-quality labneh with a blob of rose harissa suspended in its middle, to the dukkah-smothered deep-fried whitebait, to the restrained, creamy houmous, they’re simple, yet sensational. Each comes with a flame-blistered flatbread (from a south London-based Syrian baker) and the kind of big, butch crudités that make the celery batons you serve your mates look like charity shop knick-knacks. Giant wands of cucumber, hunks of beetroot, quartered raw fennel.
It’s not all perfect: a side of ‘smashed aubergine’ was far too sweet (lay off the pomegranate molasses here, guys), and while I loved the idea of marrying rotisserie pineapple to ice cream, tahini and pistachio, in practice it was destined for divorce.
Still, the staff are young and fun-loving (of the trio of co-founders, Eve and Travis met through a mutual love of ultra-running; a friend at Pizza Pilgrims introduced them to head chef Jono: ‘Wow,’ they said when they met him, ‘he’s the one’. Then waited anxiously to see if he would text back). They crack jokes while dishing out frozen margaritas and turning up the Turkish pop music. The expression ‘hidden gem’ is a platitude, but this small, friendly restaurant is just that. Against Battersea’s dull chain brigade, it’s a glittering, pomegranate-coloured jewel.
30 Battersea Rise
|Transport:||Tube: Clapham Junction|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £70.|
|Opening hours:||Mon 6pm-10.30pm; Tue-Thu 11.45am-10.30pm; Fri 11.45am-midnight; Sat 10.30-midnight; Sun 10.30am-10.30pm|
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