Mangal 2, Dalston: restaurant review
This, a jewel in Dalston's food crown, lures crowds into its frenzied dining room with the promise of classic (and delicious) Turkish grilled meats, meze and more
What's the draw
Even if you've never been here, you might know it: this ocakbasi (traditional Turkish grill restaurant) has garnered legions of followers by way of its Twitter account, a stream-of-consciousness social commentary courtesy of second-generation owner Ferhat Dirrik. Inside, you'll find a huge and varied throng of customers, from the new-school Dalston hipsters Dirrik claims to merely tolerate (guilty!) to residents who've been coming here weekly for years, all jostling for enough elbow room to tuck into the kebabs, charcoal-grilled meats, and hot and cold meze that's made Mangal 2 the pick of the Turkish restaurants in this stretch of Dalston.
What to drink
If you want beer, you're on Efes – the lager of choice for most Turkish restaurants in this country and a very safe bet alongside fragrant, spiced, grilled lamb and chicken – or Tuborg malt. A small but decent wine list starts off at £4 by the glass for a syrah/merlot blend from Turkish winery Pamukkale Senfoni, and ends up with an equally reasonably £25 bottle of shiraz/carignan from Babylon's Peak in Swartland, South Africa. In keeping with the food, reds tend towards the juicier, richer side of the scale, but there's plenty of variety in the whites, from riesling to sauvignon blanc, as well as sparkling, rosé and Turkish liqueur raki, too. Oh, and if you ask nicely – and as long as everyone in the group's having starters and mains (why wouldn't you?), you can bring your own, too.
What to eat
Despite the appearance of Moët on the drinks list, this is a restaurant that doesn't make any attempt to hide what it is with new-school reimaginings of traditional dishes – and why should it? On the menu, you'll find 76 stonewall classics: pillowy pide bread comes hot off the grill alongside luscious, creamy hummus, which can be topped with grilled Turkish sausage. You'll find tarama – a whipped salmon roe dip – here, too, and lahmacun (minced lamb and herbs atop paper-thin dough, which you should absolutely not refer to as "Turkish pizza"). Döner here takes the form of seasoned lamb shoulder, garnished with olive oil, grilled and falling off the razor-sharp knife used to slice it from the stick, served alongside more pide, rice, salad, fiery chilli and house-made garlic yoghurt sauce; or in a wrap if you're taking away, which we've been known to do when we're heading back through Dalston having had no dinner. If you're eating in, have it as iskender – a pile of that unctuous döner meat mixed with butter in a rich tomato sauce.
Meze from £4; wine from £4 by the glass. 4 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH; mangal2.com