142 Brompton Road Knightsbridge London SW3 1HY www.themantl.com
Chef Serdar Demir’s other restaurant, Skewd Kitchen, won the 2019 Fine Dining Restaurant award at the 2019 British Kebab Awards. So, what is his new place like?
It’s certainly not like taking your partner out for date night in the local Kebab shop.
Here, leather, bronze, ceramics, dark wood and low ambient lighting combine into a stylish, slick interior. We are shown to one of the booth seating areas lining the walls by the suave manager Emre and we slide in.
Each seating area features walls textured with backlit abstract plaster friezes or stonework and the space leads on down to the brightly lit exposed kitchen at its heart.
Here is ‘The Mantl’ of the name, their fireplace, with much of their contemporary take on Turkish cuisine about to be cooked over its waiting fiery coals.
We’re in the heart of Knightsbridge, flanked by Harrods up the road and Emporio Armani down the street, but this is not some stuffy ‘old money’ place.
We are gradually surrounded by large gatherings and smaller groups of youngish middle eastern folk, filling the air with a hubbub of unfamiliar language.
So, as someone who judges international cuisine by the quotient of natives eating (we’ve all done it), I was able to relax and look forward to the food.
We launch in with a couple of cocktails as we salivate over the menu. Jayne has a refreshing Mantl Master: Tequila, pomegranate juice, passion bitter and lemon juice, while I go for their version of an Old Fashioned, the Bosphorus Breeze: Rum, Mastika liqueur and bitters. It’s dark strong and warming.
There’s a range of both hot and cold starters, so we order one of each; sharing a very pretty smoked eggplant dip with Kapia peppers, walnuts, garlic, honey and tarhana crisp, bejewelled with pomegranate seeds and served with triangles of herbed ‘Pide’ flatbread with za’atar
From the hot starters, the Chargrilled Octopus with mung beans, more Kapia peppers, dill and golden apple.
This is recommended by Emre and we are delighted to discover it is succulent and yielding with satisfyingly charred overtones. Now we feel even more relaxed, properly reassured of the food quality.
Wine is also recommended; a 2017 Kayra with an unfamiliar Turkish grape Kalecik Karasi from the Denizli region of Turkey.
It’s big and powerful but glossy and smooth much like a new world wine, delicious - just a shame the variety name will be hard to remember for future reference.
Main courses arrive swiftly; for Jayne a perfectly cooked and presented fillet of Seabass with a side salad tossed in a pomegranate molasses dressing and, in the spirit of trying a bit of everything, for me the ‘Mixed Pit’ of house speciality lamb fillet, chicken shish, adana seasoned minced lamb, lamb ribs and lamb chop.
It’s basically a lamb - with a little chicken as a garnish (veg skewers are available). It’s lovely and succulent with all those bold flavours from the grill.
We share a Pilav rice and an unusual side of barbecue onions in tasty turnip juice with olive oil, sumac and more pomegranate molasses.
Of course, after our plates are clean, we are both very full, so we forge on and order dessert. Jayne, having had the somewhat lighter fish, now fancies the walnut pudding with crème anglaise which although sponge based, turns out not to be at all dense.
I can’t resist some Baklava, although it is ‘Mantl style’ which has a lighter, more airy pastry but with all the pistachio and honey flavours inside.
We wash it all down with fresh mint tea and ‘Dibek’ another reimagining, this time of a Turkish coffee but smoother.
The Mantl’s quality of food is evident, the service is attentive yet discreet and the warmth of their reception is genuine.
They opened during Ramadan which has meant a slow start so far, but judging by the amount of people feasting away as we left, the place should regularly get as stuffed as we now find ourselves.