Saray Mangal

January 21, 2014

We both sighed as my friend told me about seeing the queues outside the newly opened Frankie and Benny’s at Leicester’s Highcross. Fortunately, we could quickly forget about that because we were going somewhere far more pleasurable.

In contrast to the huge rambling collection of American-type food substance on offer at FB,  Saray Mangal has a small, focused menu that distils the appeal of the Turkish ocakbasi –  the extraordinary aromas and tastes of spiced meats grilled over flames. Similar venues have popped up around Narborough Road (I’ve already praised Sultan)  but this is on Highfields Street, just five minutes from my home and it’s lovely. It’s in the premises of what was the cheap and cheerful L’Aperitivo, and shares some of the good natured bonhomie of that restaurant with the advantage of better food.

Sure it’s not sophisticated, but it is very tasty food by smiling people in a buzzing atmosphere. There were nine of us on Saturday night and the place was packed, mainly with large groups of young women in headscarves having a great time. Our waitress apologised for having to shout a bit to get herself heard, but every order came quickly and correctly and served with good grace.  We started by sharing a couple of the family meze selection – small, but fresh and punchy plates of aubergine salad, cacik (Anatolian herby yoghurt), hummus, stuffed vine leaves, olives, springy bread…you know the kind of thing. Then, arriving when ready, our main courses – basically variations of chicken or lamb, minced or cubed, spiced and flame grilled, and served up with rice and salad or a creamy yoghurt sauce.   Just delightful, and both courses and a soft drink for less than a burger at F&B.

If you want a real slice of Leicester life in 2014, as opposed to a dodgy recreation of a marketing meeting’s version of 50’s Americana, and you want some food that is genuine and wholesome – get yourself down there.


One last word on Kayal…

January 7, 2014

I was very cheered to see a fabulous review of Kayal in the Telegraph at the weekend by Matthew Norman. He went, it seems, out of a sense of sympathy after the events of last autumn and the infamous health inspectors’ night out. He was blown away by the food and urged people to go. You can read the full review here – but if you can’t be bothered I’ll give you a few highlights:

– “imaginative and vibrant”(overall verdict)

– “a rich and gorgeous treat” (adipoli aadu)

– “a taste sensation” (soup)

– “majestic” (the masala dosa)

– “spectacular” (the tilapia)

–  “the food is genuinely superb” (the thali)

– charming and astonishing (the service).

What a great result for this lovely restaurant.


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