I’m not sure what offends Ben most: the thought of all those slaughtered birds or the fact that so few people can cook a turkey properly. Either way I suggest he heads to Dalston to cheer himself up with a real taste of Turkey at 19 Numara Bos Cirrik.
This curiously named ocakbasi restaurant is one of a number of well-regarded Turkish restaurants on the Kingsland strip. The art world’s smutty twosome Gilbert and George are so taken with neighbouring Mangal II they eat there every evening.
19 Numara Bos Cirrik or ‘Number 19 Empty Bird’ has been serving Turkish BBQ in Dalston for 25 years. It is so popular they recently opened a second restaurant further up the road in Stoke Newington called 19 Numara Bos Cirrik II. Presumably 20 Numara Bos Cirrik was already taken.
Despite having been warned not to bother with starters this party of six could not resist ordering a plate of mixed meze, which we asked to be brought out at the same time as our mains. Heralding the arrival of our grilled meat, the mixed meze was delivered to the table as the most depressing assortment of pink blancmange-coloured taramasalata, dehydrated falafel and a Russian salad reminiscent of Heinz sandwich spread. However, all disappointment was quickly forgotten and the offending meze pushed aside as the waiter delivered the rest of our meal.
Skewered, tender quail, an assortment of kebabs, spare ribs, spicy minced lamb shish, chicken shish in a yoghurt and tomato sauce and – my personal favourite – grilled lamb beyti, were greeted with much oohing and ahhing and elbowing out the way. All this meat was accompanied by plates of barbequed onion served in a sharp pomegranate and turnip sauce, an onion, chilli and parsley salad, piles of mixed salad, eye wateringly hot barbequed peppers and delicious, freshly baked pide bread, which explains why there’s no need for starters. In fact the only food left on the table at the end of the evening was the sad selection of meze. With several bottles of ice cold Efes the bill came to £17 per head.
19 Numara Bos Cirrik, 34 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston N16 7XJ 020 7249 0400