668 Streatham High Road, London, SW16 3QL lahore-kebabhouse.com
You know those old films where a titled couple sit at either end of a giant table and have to get the butler to pass the salt? Well Lahore Kebab House has tables like that, ones so wide the sight of me gnawing my grilled lamb chop actually reached the wife before the sound did.
Mind you there’s a good reason – plenty of space for lots and lots of dishes. This outpost of the Lahore in East London, located in equally hip and happening Norbury, is very popular. Most of the clientele are Asian, which is not necessarily a recommendation as most of the local residents are too, but even though the place is enormous there seems to be no problem filling the enormously heavy seats.
Lahore reminds me of bus depot eateries in Asia; the size, the simplicity, the giant TVs silently pumping out adverts for brands of rice and biryani mix. The people eating are sometimes in groups, families with small children, and there are also mysterious, rather desperate looking lone diners killing time over grilled meats.
And it is the grills they come for here, even though there is a standard’Indian’ menu. We ordered a mixed grill to share and without needing to be asked, the waiter brought poppadoms, a plate of crunchy salad and a corkscrew for the bottle of Lidl’s wine we’d picked up on the way in. Yes, joy of joys, this is BYOB too
The meats come crackling with energy on a red hot metal dish, they look great. Skewers of tandooried chicken, grilled hunks of fish draped in masala mix, juicy lamb koftas, flavour-filled mutton and of course the lamb chops. Generous quantities, but bizarrely all in odd numbers, which makes it tricky for a couple to share.
The chicken tandoori skewers had had long marination; the flavour was all the way through unlike some places where the jar sauce is simply slopped on just before grilling. The meat had the right amount of charring but was still moist in the centre, the fish was firm and’meaty’, its masala coating crisp and fiery. The minced lamb skewers were well-cooked, always tricky with lamb, they had that little core of pink so necessary for flavour.
The lamb chops weren’t the best I’ve ever had, Benares still holds that title, but were still pretty good, in fact one of them was excellent. I suppose it depends a bit on the thickness, the best one was also the thinnest. All three were chew down to the bone enjoyable.
We ate the salad with the meats and ordered a simple vegetable curry with rice and nans. Not a bad curry, deep turmeric flavour not just the yellow colour, and the rice had the mini witches’ finger appearance you only get with the better basmatis. Shoving the half drunk bottle of wine into our carrier bag we made off; £21 for the lot – a bargain.
You won’t go here for a sit down special meal; in fact most of you wont go here at all seeing as you don’t know where Norbury is do you? But if you’re ever darn sarf then look out for the loudest building in town right next to the banks of the burbling River Wandle. Lahore joy ahoy!