42 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel | http://www.maedahgrill.net | ingested once a month
We discovered this east-end gem a couple years ago when we first moved to the area. Ironically, what made us venture through its once unfamiliar doors was the unbearable hour-long queue at Whitechapel’s celebrated curry house Tayyabs which lies on the opposite side of the road. Two years on, Fieldgate Street now has a second institution on the East London foodie trail worth championing (and surprise surprise, it aint a curry!).
What sets Maedah apart from your everyday Kebab house has to be its immense ocak grill, the cornerstone of Turkish cuisine. The ocak here stretches along the entire width of the open concept kitchen. Be prepared to salivate as hand-made kebabs and vegetables sizzle away on the grill, cooked flawlessly by the chefs here who take the art of barbequeing very seriously.
Lahmacun and Babaganus
A wide range of mezzes are served here from the customary cold hoummous and cacik (yoghurt, cucumber, mint and garlic) to crisp, deep-fried lamb koftes. However, there are 2 stand-out appetizers which I can’t resist ordering time and time again. Maedah’s Babaganus (grilled aubergine puree with peppers, garlic and tomatoes) is bold and full of flavour – a perfect spread for the warm, just-toasted flatbread. Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza with a minced lamb, pine nut and mint topping) is always satisfying and on the money, arming the salivary glands for the wonders ahead.
Onto the main event… served straight off the ocak, you can have any grill you fancy from Lamb to Chicken to MonkFish, grilled to perfection in their various shapes and forms (wings, chops, cubed, minced.. you name it). Our favourites are the spicy lamb-minced based Adana Kebab and the Monkfish Kebab. For me, what brings the grills to life are the condiments that come on the side – a delectably fresh salad of red cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and olives, a smooth garlic sauce and tangy home-made chilli sauce. YummyMummy.
For a place that can handle at least 200 covers at any one time, we were told apologetically by the owner on a recent primetime visit that there would be 5 minute wait for the next available table (he clearly hasn’t endured the queue at Tayyabs before… Great to know that their immense success hasn’t gotten to their heads). The proof is in the pudding at this superb Ocakbasi. Great food, fresh ingredients, and immaculate service at budget prices don’t lie. Its no wonder this has become Jo’s favourite London eatery. Smile like she did when you ask for the check and you might even coerce the ever-friendly waiters here to give you some extra Turkish delights on the house.