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Photos by James Balston jamesbalston.com

Justine Crow

discovers that our new Turkish eaterie is anything but a turkey

t is the bookseller’s day off and as usual he is up at the shop, trapped behind the till. When I ask him what his plans are he mutters something about taking the train up to town if only he could get away. Sensing I need to employ an emergency offensive to extricate him from the counter, I produce my opening salvo: ‘Lunch?’ He hesitates, thoughts processing the prospect of queuing at a stall full of tourists at London Bridge to buy a pulled pork roll in an hour’s time. I reload: ‘Now?’ He’s still looking at the screen. I unleash the secret weapon: ‘Hummus?’ And that’s all it took. We had already experienced the whipped sesame condiment at the Triangle’s latest addition to SE19’s crack at world culinary domination and it didn’t take much persuading to get back round the corner and sample the special daytime menu. We even managed to wrench our eyeballs from Do South’s window display. We had gone there for dinner, the previous Friday, after several recommendations. Somewhat sceptical, however, of what lay beyond Blue Door Bicycles and the launderette (it’s fair to say that in recent times other food enterprises haven’t exactly caused a riot along that stretch of pavement) we certainly weren’t expecting to be greeted by such a fervent throng so evidently enjoying themselves. It seems they couldn’t resist the hummus either. That Friday night, the place was brimming with chatter and music and the occasional swishing sizzle

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DEM from the charcoal grills over which guys in bandanas played numerous kebabs like percussionists in an orchestra. At the door the owner, Yuksel, was directing traffic with a clipboard while the rest of his staff zigzagged back and forth, good-naturedly tending to the 120 covers in their charge. That’s a heck of a lot of covers. We got thirsty just watching. So we ordered a couple of chilled Turkish Efes lagers. It has been a hundred years since me and the bookseller were in Turkey, in the days when its resorts were still only three storeys high, but we have very happy gourmet memories of the place. The dish of deep red ezme salad that had miraculously appeared in front of me at DEM that evening was pretty perfect and the crushed chillis, red onions, tomatoes and herby concoction poked fun at our docile British taste-buds. We’d ordered mixed hot and cold meze and suddenly our table was gridlocked with colours and flavours redolent of that trip back in the old days when both of us still looked good in bikinis. This particular evening there had also been some seriously sharp-elbowed competitive dipping – for the hummus, ispanakli (spinach with yoghurt), pureed aubergine, cacik (yoghurt, cucumber, mint, garlic) – with flatbreads that had been finished off on the grill. Thin slices of Turkish sausage were crisp and piquant, the salty halloumi had just the right external crunch and it was all perfectly matched with the zesty catch-all green tabule. There was kalamar too and dainty sigara

The Transmitter Issue 40  

A South London Magazine

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