Meraklı Köfteci Hermannstraße 174

Greetings, Döner Fans! Dr Döner has been eating kebabs with reckless abandon this week; so far thankfully without ill effects. Today the surfeit of meat continued. One particular kebab establishment near Leinestraße had been catching my attention over the past few days. A big, red sign had been announcing the presence of the ‘Meşhur’ Meraklı Köfteci shop – meşhur meaning ‘famous’ and meraklı meaning ‘curious’. Though you’ll find that most kebab restaurants seem to think themselves famous. Anyway, my cravings drove me into the Köfteci’s meaty embrace and I ordered an Adana Kebap Ekmek Arası, or an Adana Kebab (minced lamb) in bread.

The famous Meraklı Köfteci shop. What do you mean you haven't heard of it??

The interior was sort of standard and plasticky, though the display beneath the counter looked very fresh with its assortment of meats and salads. Rather than your standard döner shop, this was a specialty kebab, köfte and soup establishment along the lines of Baba Sultan in Wedding (which incidentally also considers itself famous – rightly so!) Waiting at a table before the counter, I was kept entertained by a Turkish music channel on the main TV in the corner. Meanwhile, the Adana Kebab was cooked before my eyes and a fresh dollop of yoghurt was slopped into the bread, followed by some spicy sauce. Lettuce and red onion were sprinkled on, followed by a row of tomatoes carefully arranged on top, and garnished with a pinch of red sumac. It looked and smelled very promising.

The piles of mince and veg beneath the counter bathe in an appetising pink glow.

Handing over my 4,50 I took the kebab back to the flat and ate it. It was very good. The yoghurt and the spicy sauce mingled deliciously, each trying to overcome the other. The salad was fresh and the meat was finely spiced. All in all, its quality approached the heady heights of Baba Sultan standards, and its popularity was attested by the large number of customers dining at the tables outside on this warm August day. If you are ever on Hermannstraße, then Meraklı Köfteci comes highly recommended. Afiyet olsun!

The Adana Kebab. Very tasty!

Results

Service: 4/5 (good)

Atmosphere: 4/5 (popular and relaxed)

Price: 4/5 (good)

Taste: 5/5 (very nice)

To Recap: What Have We Learned?

“meşhur” [mesh-hoor] (famous)

“meraklı” [mer-ack-luh] (curious)

Photography by Dr. Döner

Döner Box Weißenseer Weg

Night-time kebab

Greetings, Döner Fans! Dr Döner has wasted no time in sampling new and evermore far-flung kebab haunts on his August 2015 tour of Berlin. The other night saw a nocturnal outing to the Döner Box on the corner of Hohenschönhauser Straße and Weißenseer Weg. If you know your Berlin geography, then you’ll know that that’s well outside the Ring! Just what was Dr Döner doing out in this wasteland of civilization? Well let me elucidate. Some friends and I had headed out to this peaceful corner of the city to do the Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss brewery tour. And we were eager to learn new things.

The tour was a jolly event. We were whisked round the brewery by a chummy German chap – let’s call him Hans. Hans was very keen on numbers and figures, and delighted in telling us precisely how many litres of beer were in each cask, lorry and storage drum. He laughed a lot, and it was not always clear why. At one point he invited us to guess how many litres of beer were in one of the drums. ’70 thousand litres?’ suggested an English guy on the tour. But at this, Hans seemed to sour. ‘Oh,’ said Hans, ‘you think you’re pretty clever do you? You have done the calculations, have you?’ ‘It was just a guess,’ mumbled the English guy. ‘Well you were wrong. It holds 540 thousand litres,’ said Hans, almost with a sneer. When at one point we passed an overflowing bucket of foam, whose contents were beginning to trickle out into the carpark, Hans said that he had never seen that happen before, and asked us not to take pictures of it. I’m sure it’s all been cleared away now.

The tour concluded with beer-tasting and schnitzel in the brewery restaurant. We were allowed to have as much beer as we could stomach in two hours, fresh from the brewery’s taps. It was a convivial occasion. Hans toured the restaurant, cheerfully handing out new beers and making humorous observations. At 9:30pm the restaurant closed and we stumbled out into the sultry summer night.

But wait, what's this? A new super offer?

It was while looking for a tram that we espied the lambent glow of the Döner Box on a street corner. Its only customers that night appeared to be a man and a dog. There was really no need to eat a döner. We had just had schnitzel. But something about the big sign saying NEU SUPER ANGEBOT was just too hard to resist. With the tram coming in 4 minutes, it was a race against time to purchase a chicken gemüsedöner without missing our ride. Thankfully, the man inside the Döner Box was a paragon of efficiency. Rarely has a döner been made so fast! Chicken, salad, spicy sauce, garlic sauce – all were slapped into a wedge of bread in double-quick time. And all for the NEU SUPER ANGEBOT price of 2,50.

A man and his dog: customers of the Döner Box.

We ate it on the tram. I’m not sure if this is allowed. We tried not to make a mess. The döner itself was very passable. A rogue piece of red cabbage had strayed into my salad, but I overlooked it as it did not impair the flavours. It was a standard Berlin chicken döner and is surely a welcome treat to anyone waiting at Weißenseer Weg for a tram back to the city. I suspect Hans visits it with some frequency. In any case, I would urge readers to head out there quickly and try it before the NEU SUPER ANGEBOT ends, since there was no indication of how long this spectacular and vague offer would last. Enjoy!

A piece of red cabbage. It seemed like a bigger deal at the time. Perhaps you had to be there.

Results

Service: 4/5 (lightning speed)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (fine)

Price: 4/5 (NEU SUPER ANGEBOT)

Taste: 3/5 (average)

Photographs by Dr. Döner and Ms. S. Clarke

Star Gemüse Kebap Warthestraße

Guten Tag, Döner Fans! Dr Döner is back in Berlin, and all is well in the world once more. No longer must he choke down the shrivelled offerings of Amsterdam’s lacklustre Eetsalons! Even as I type this, my fingers are still moist from the inaugural kebab of this particular Berliner sojourn – my first decent, solid Berliner kebab in too long a time! Let me lay the scene. I had woken up in a comfortable apartment down a quiet street somewhere near Leinestraße in Neukölln – readers may remember it as the setting of a previous blog post. As lunch approached and duty called, I came in from the balcony and went out to hunt down the latest döner developments in the local area. It was not long before my eyes alighted on a lead. There, on a little island next to Hermannstraße, was the unmistakeable silhouette of a kebab hut. Yes indeed! It was a Gemüsedöner stand, and it had a picture of a chicken on it. I stepped onto its green plastic matting and prepared to place my order.

You can tell by the picture of the chicken that this is a place of quality

Perhaps I am overly full of myself. But it is always something of a disappointment when kebab sellers are not as pleased to see me as I am to see them. The man who was lurking inside Star Gemüse Kebap looked, as they say, as if he had just licked piss off a nettle. He spent several agonising moments slopping spicy sauce from a bucket into a serving receptacle before deigning to acknowledge my presence. He did not speak. He took my order with a look. My dürüm was prepared in silence. He spoke only to ask me what sauces I wanted (garlic and spicy). He could not have looked more bored if he tried. Maybe he did not enjoy his job. Perhaps someone had fouled on his doorstep this morning, or stolen his favourite mug. In any case, we did not share that special bond that sometimes exists between kebab-maker and kebab-eater. He handed over my dürüm. I paid my 3,30 Euros, and departed.

"Look at the size of that thing!" The kebab dwarfs the plate.

I got back to the flat, went onto the balcony, and my disappointment was instantly dispelled as I bit into my dürüm. The kebab-seller’s bored outer appearance had clearly been a skilful mask used to disguise the love with which he had crafted that kebab. It was a delicious meal – the chicken meat was succulent, the spicy and garlic sauce complemented it beautifully, and the salad was fresh. A sprinkling of feta and a squirt of lemon gave it a special zing. As I wolfed it down, I forgave the kebab-seller for his questionable service – there is no need to be a people-person when one is creating such high standards of art, Döner Fans! The moment was perfect as I sat munching on the balcony, marred only by someone hawking noisily in the street below. I reclined upon the balcony-chair. The first kebab of the Berlin tour had been devoured. Dr Döner was back in the game!

The tinfoil is unfurled to reveal the meaty interior

Results

Service: 2/5 (sour)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (fine)

Price: 4/5 (good)

Taste: 4/5 (very tasty)

Photographs by Dr. Döner

Cafe Pera – 57 Elm Row, Edinburgh

Hello Döner Fans! I hope this finds you well. On a sunny day this week, Dr Döner was back in Edinburgh again. Had he gone for the Festival? Was he there to soak up cutting-edge theatre and stand-up comedy? No, he was not. He was there to sample a new Turkish restaurant called Cafe Pera, which has recently opened on Elm Row. And he was in for a treat!

Pera, as we all know, is the historical name for a formerly European mercantile quarter of Istanbul, now known as Beyoğlu, on the Western side of the city. It was renowned for its nightlife and illicit delights and, to an extent, still is. The delights at Edinburgh’s Cafe Pera were thankfully very licit, and my companions and I were lured in by the array of delicious meze on display in the front window. Keen to try everything, we ordered the mixed meze platter to share, and I followed this with the Pera mixed grill.

The bountiful spread of the Cafe Pera mixed meze for three

The meze platter offered a vast selection of tasty morsels, both familiar and unfamiliar. It boasted cacık (tzatziki), turşu (pickled vegetables), various creamed and spicy vegetable and nut pastes, and a basket of freshly baked pide (bread). It was a generous platter, and the flavours were good. Our appetites were well whetted for the grilled kebabs that were to follow. And we were served by an absolute gent named Savaş, who diligently checked on us throughout the course of our meal to ensure that everything was satisfactory. He brought us our main course and we tucked in.

Cafe Pera mixed grill

The mixed grill consisted of chicken şiş (cubed, skewered meat), lamb şiş, and lamb köfte (skewered mince) nestled on a bed of bulgur with a small portion of çoban salatası (shepherd’s salad), which is tomato, cucumber, onion, chilli pepper and parsley. The meat was tender and juicy. The chicken in particular was done to perfection, and nicely spiced. Best of all was the lamb köfte, however, whose mix of herbs gave it a full and rich flavour. In all, it was magnificent.

Unfortunately, Dr Döner had pigged out on the meze. Yes, he had stuffed himself beyond the point of redemption. It was a study in gluttony. The result was that, when the kebab arrived, he was unable to finish it all by himself, and was forced to leave a piece of lamb şiş and half a piece of chicken. If anyone thought that this faux pas would go unremarked, they were wrong. Savaş looked anxious as he lifted my plate and asked why I hadn’t finished. I gushed that it had been delicious but that I was too full and had had to leave a small portion of it. He went away. But then he came back. Words had been had in the kitchen, and he wanted to know if the meat had not been good. I offered my most profuse flattery, saying that it had all been excellent, but that I had eaten far too much of the equally delicious meze to stuff in any more. He looked relieved. The crisis had been averted.

Lamb Kavurma (stew), eaten by a fellow diner, and equally delectable

When it came to order coffees, my cover was finally blown. I asked Savaş for a Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee) and asked for it orta şekerli (medium sweet). His eyes lit up. He asked me in Turkish where I had learned these words. And then the whole tale came out. I regaled him with my time in Istanbul, and he beamed as he replied that he was from Istanbul himself, from Üsküdar on the Eastern shore. To prove our new camaraderie, he brought me my coffee in a special cup, not the one he gives the tourists! And the coffee was perfect, everything was perfect. When the time came to pay the bill, he brought us a dish of Turkish delight.

‘What is name?’ he asked cheerfully, proffering the dish.

I told him my name.

‘No,’ he said, pointing to the Turkish delight. ‘What is name of this?’

‘Oh…’ I said, red-faced. ‘It’s called lokum.’

‘Yes!’ he beamed. ‘Turkish delight is lokum!’

When we left, Savaş shook my hand for so long that I thought he wouldn’t let go, and invited us to come back later for raki. And that, Döner Fans, proves once more the undeniable friendliness of the Turkish people. They are some of the world’s best hosts: conscientious and welcoming to a fault. We departed, promising to return once again, satisfied with our food and with the service, having enjoyed a very good, and very hospitable, afternoon. Cafe Pera gets the Dr Döner seal of approval!

Results

Service: 5/5 (impeccable)

Atmosphere: 5/5 (very nice, with Turkish lamps and art deco photography)

Price: 5/5 (very good)

Taste: 5/5 (delicious)

To Recap: What Have We Learned?

“cacık” [ja-jick] (Turkish tzatziki)

“turşu” [toor-shoo] (pickled vegetables)

“pide” [pee-day] (flat bread)

“şiş” [sheesh] (cubed, skewered meat)

“köfte” [köf-teh] (mince, either in meatball-form or on a skewer)

“çoban salatası” [cho-ban sa-la-ta-suh] (shepherd’s salad)

“Türk kahvesi” [toork kah-fe-see] (Turkish coffee)

“orta şekerli” [or-ta sheck-er-lee] (medium sweet)

“lokum” [low-come] (Turkish delight)

Photography courtesy of Ms. I. McQueen