When you overhear someone ordering ten portions of falafel, you’ve got to try the falafel. Fez Mangal is a no-frills Turkish restaurant serving some seriously juicy kebabs, house-made doner, and those in-demand falafels to the lucky people of Ladbroke Grove.
The falafels didn’t disappoint, with subtle cumin spice and a fluffy, reassuringly chunky chickpea filling in a crisp coating. The houmous was smooth beyond belief – so creamy it practically dissolved on the tongue – and it played a generous supporting role to everything else on the plate. Bread was a little stiff, which was disappointing as it’s cooked so impressively on a domed griddle in amongst the sizzling kebabs and pots of melted butter. But smothering it in that hummus absolved all shortcomings.
A tang of tahini perked up a smoked aubergine babaganoush ahead of a plate of yogurtlu adana: a hand-shaped lamb kebab, served on a mound of rice, with rich tomato sauce and chunks of pitta. Soggy bread isn’t usually a good thing, but when it’s quivering with butter and soaked in tomato and kebab juices, it is a thing of beauty. A colourful rainbow salad of watercress, carrot and red cabbage on the side made it feel just a little more virtuous.
The main restaurant is elegantly decorated with low lighting and banquette seats, but that hardly matters when you’re diving face first into a juicy mixed grill platter of shish and doner kebabs. It gets busy in the evenings, but a compact sister restaurant for lunch and take-away sits next door if you can’t wait til dinnertime. BYO in both places has no corkage fee (hooray!), which is reason enough to invite all your friends any time of day.