LOCATION: Theo’s Pizzeria, 2 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY [map]
BREAD: Lovely sourdough pizza base.
FILLING: Tuna, mozzarella, chilli, black olives, sliced onion.
PROS: I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, because for years I have upheld the belief that the tuna melt is basically the most disgusting sandwich of all time. I mean, tuna with cheese, FFS. Fish with CHEESE. Fishy cheese. Chishy feeze. Can you think of any other dish where that’s a thing? I can’t. Fish pie, maybe, if you’re the kind of idiot who puts cheese on a fish pie, in which case your opinions aren’t valid anyway. No, it doesn’t work, it shouldn’t be done and yet, here we are.
The reason Theo’s gets away with this, I think, is the quality of the ingredients. They use Ortiz, which, in case you don’t know, is basically really good tinned tuna. Not that grey mushy shite you get from Prince’s that looks like it was scraped out of the tumble dryer lint collector. No students, anywhere, are mixing this with mayonnaise and putting it on their jacket potatoes. So there’s that. Then there is the mozzarella which I know is Bianca la Bufala flown in from Naples because I asked about it when I wrote this review of their pizzas. Again, brilliant. There is sliced onion and chilli to give it some bite and there are shiny black olives. I don’t know anything about the olives except that they’re very good and I’m sad when they’re all gone. They’re glossy and plump and they slip around and out of the sandwich and you pick one up and eat it and feel happy.
It’s just a really classy sandwich, is what I’m saying. Tuna and sodding cheese.
CONS: Head fuck.
LOCATION: 54 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8QZ [map].
PRICE: £6.00 – £7.50.
BREAD: A very large, thin flatbread, the like of which I have not seen elsewhere.
FILLING: Lamb, salad (carrot, onion, lettuce, peppers), garlic yoghurt sauce, chilli sauce.
PROS & CONS: F M Mangal is very close to my house and I have long since stopped eating in. I’ve discovered the way to do things properly, which is to order the wraps, embellish with a Turkish salad and flamingo tarama (if going all out) and then just get on with life. Straying into the wider menu is for idiots and the uninitiated. You’ll notice that I have titled this post ‘lamb wrap’ as I couldn’t decide between the lamb shish and the adana. We often order both, then halve them and share. The lamb shish should be eaten first, while the chunks of lamb are springy and hot from the grill; they bounce between the teeth, just cooked in the centre, smoke infused. They’re as juicy as a tense plum, and the not-quite-bloody flavours and fats combine inside with the thin garlic yoghurt, chilli sauce and salad. This is why you get the wrap; this magical cauldron of tasty will not bubble if things are presented just so on a plate.
The adana, conversely, is better when slightly cooled; at least, it can take it, unlike the lamb shish, which has a tendency to taste livery if not still jumping from the heat. These lengthy pucks of minced meat and spice ooze fat and glory. My one complaint is that they do turn up the odd nugget of gristle but this adds to the spit, smoke and flame-licked animal appeal of it all. The key to making a good adana that stays on the skewer lies in the kneading of the meat mixture beforehand, which increases the density of the kebab and stops it flopping off into the coals. This is a good, solid but juicy example that they bash out consistently like a sewing machine hammers fabric. Confident and relentless.