I don't know about other bloggers but I like to have a little root around in the logs, seeing how many people have visited and especially how they've got there. At first it was always friends or from food blogs where I'd been shamelessly self-promoting. After a while you notice people coming from elsewhere though and it was with great joy that I started seeing visitors from search engine results. Browesrs had been searching for something and Google had suggested me.
I noticed after a while that people frequently turned up at my blog when they'd been looking for a certain Turkish barbecue restaurant in Dalston that Rick Stein mentioned on his Food Heroes show. When I first moved to Dalston I turned to google to find out the restaurant's name, a query like 'Rick Stein Dalston' probably. It's funny how search engines index things because at time of writing this blog gets returned 4th for that query, and I've only mentioned the place briefly so anyone clicking that 4th result must be sorely disappointed.
I'm seeking to redress that though with a review of Rick Stein's Dalston favourite, Mangal Ocakbasi on Arcola Street. Mangal Ocakbasi probably isn't the kind of place you'd find if you didn't know about it, I doubt many people come to Dalston for much and if they do they probably stick to the myriad of Turksih restaurants on Kingsland Road rather than nipping off down side streets like Arcola Street. It's worth it though, not only can you say you've been to a restaurant Rick Stein likes you get great value, perfectly barbecued meats and the thrifty pleasure of bringing your own beer. Fingers crossed going forward people now searching for 'Rick Stein Dalston' get sent to this post on my site and get something useful in return this time.
The menu is farly simple - you've got cubed lamb, cubed chicken, chicken wings, lamb chops on the bone, lamb chops off the bone, minced lamb, minced chicken and quails. All stuck on skewers and deftly cooked by a man seated infront of an immense barbecue. It looks warm work. Rumour has it they bake their own bread too (it's good and certianly different to other ocakbasi bread) and there's a few salad items too. All in all it's pared back dining though. Being a glutton I can never decide on one thing and tend to go for the mixed grill, even with or without quail.
I've eaten in many a time, but also resort to the takeaway, and this is what's on display here - eating in you don't get the rather loud striped melamine tray. I went for the mixed grill without quail, mainly because lamb chop, rolled lamb chop, cubed lamb, minced lamb and chicken wing (with bread and salad) seems enough for a takeaway in front of the TV, the £9 is also more palatable than the £12 for home consumption too. The meat is seasoned beautifully, cooked till moist and tender, and smokey like only fat dripping on charcoal can provide. The bread is light but chewy, the salad a welcome fresh foil. If you're in the area it's well worth taking a short walk down Arcola Street and trying this gem out. Alas I'm not the only person that raves about the place so you may have to queue.
10 Arcola Street