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Ah, the kebab. Bottom of the food chain, The sort of thing only a student would eat, and then only if he (never she) was so drunk that it couldn't possibly stay down.
Except that this reputation is largely undeserved. Anyone who has visited one of the Turkish restaurants in West London that doubles as kebab shop will know that a shish can be a tasty, healthy meal.
The main differences between Flaming Nora and the ordinary high street grease merchant are cosmetic. Gone are the filthy walls and surly staff to be replaced by gleaming white paint and smiling faces (although the language barrier seems as severe as ever). The 'elephants leg' of doner meat has disappeard, to be replaced by big open grills that make a good show when the place is busy, and give the meat a nice smoky flavour. Late night essentials (cigarettes, smoothies, condoms, cookies, breath mints) are on sale.
New additions to the cuisine include some very tasty gourmet options with halloumi, yellowfin tuna and Aberdeen Angus steak sitting alongside the usual lamb, chicken and burger options. Pitta bread has been replaced by tortilla wraps, which makes the kebabs impressively light on the stomach. The most important improvement is in the sauces, which are excellent, full of the powerful, fresh flavours that kebabs demand.
Still this is less a fast food revolution, than the rehabilitation of a good and much-maligned cuisine. And very nice it is too.
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14 Dagmar Passage, Cross Street, Islington, Islington, London N1 | 3 minutes from Flaming Nora
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