Saturday, 23 March 2013

Olives & Figs: top chop

Great Turkish BYOB with beautiful lamb chops.

I'm not wild about Mediterranean food. I find it picky and slow. It's designed for hot climates, when you're never really hungry because of the heat and the sheer amount of water you consume (or at least the tourists do). So it doesn't suit our climate. It's hardly heart warming to walk into an air conditioned BOYB Turkish restaurant from a wet, freezing March evening and dig in to carrot batons and hummus.

So when we visited the tucked away and tiny Olives & Figs on Artillery Lane, that was the last thing I wanted, and luckily the last thing I ate (apart from the Baklava). And when I did any dipping in hummus, it was with deep-fried halloumi and crispy, gnarly ribs. Now THAT's Mediterranean food.

All that came on the hot mezze platter - astonishing value at £5.95. The lovely, thick sausage was a joy too, but nothing to the mouthwatering spinach and feta parcels that we dipped into a chilli oil and dreamt of platefuls of the bastards.

It look a little while the main to arrive - not so-long-I-might-complain while (partly because the staff were lovely), but while enough for us to make a significant dent in the booze we have brought (it's BYOB) from a wonderful shop on Old Street called the City Beverage Company - I couldn't recommend it more. I also couldn't recommend Anchor Steam's Liberty Ale much more either, which stood up to the heavily spiced food we were drinking.

But the real highlight was to come. But first came the butterflied fried prawns, more meaty than your average chicken leg and bigger too, topped with herbs and spices. They looked the part, and tasted great too, even if the slightly stringy texture let them down. But they paled in comparison to the lamb chops I was about to tuck into. Never have lamb chops melted so perfectly in my mouth. I've hunted to great lamb chops at both Lahore and Tayyabs and found them both slightly wanting. It seems the Turks have won it. Here, like huge, meaty Magnum ice creams I sucked the meat off the bone, ignoring the pointless rice and sad, soggy salad (evidently the chef had done the same). I was genuinely gutted that I reached the end of my plate, mourning the fact that my lamb didn't have more ribs to give. I like to think that was the lamb's last thought.

It might be mine.

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