A family-run Turkish restaurant in South London has been voted into the top 10 London restaurants listed on reviews website Tripadvisor. The Lewisham eatery Meze Mengal, which sells traditional Turkish fare including kebabs, has been rated better than Marcus Wareing at the Berkley and the Ritz by readers of the site.
Nestled just underneath famous gastronomy houses Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Ledbury, Meze Mengal is run by two brothers Sahin, 43 and Ahmet, 45, who began their culinary career at Wimpy in Kingston-Upon-Thames in the 1980s.
[Related article: Did Heston keep the top spot in the Good Food Guide 2013?]
“When we opened there was nowhere like us in the area,” Sahin said. “Turkish food had a very bad reputation - all doner kebabs dripping with oil - and we wanted to change that and show people what Turkish cooking is really like.
“So we had tablecloths, nice silverware and wine glasses on the tables. Everything to get away from that takeaway image.
“The big difference is that we smile. I love this job. If you don’t love it, it doesn’t matter how good you are. I sit and chat with the customers, and they always stay for two or three hours. There’s no time limit.
“The food can take you only so far.”
Another plus is that the restaurant’s popular food isn’t at sky high prices. Mains are around £12 and you can enjoy a bottle of house wine for a tenner. It now plans to expand into the closed-down café next door, which should alleviate the only complaint customers currently have - the scrum for a table.
But rivals aren’t worried about the competition. Dimitri Bellos, manager at double Michelin star-rated Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, said: “If you ask me as an individual, I don’t really use Tripadvisor.
“If I go out in London I know what’s going on. For me, two Michelin stars is more trustworthy. But if you’re looking for a good kebab, why not?”
Will you be booking a table?