Wednesday, 3 August 2011

19 Numara Bos Cirrik I, Dalston




On the one hand, this is going to be yet another blog post about a fantastic, ludicrously cheap Ocakbasi grill, and to that end, I apologise if it feels like you've heard it all before. Londoners are spoiled for decent Turkish restaurants in a way that almost no other cuisine can manage - some are better than others, of course, and I imagine it is at least theoretically possible to have a bad Turkish if you try hard enough, but there are just so many good ones scattered around certain areas of Dalston and Shoreditch that you'd have to be very unlucky to come away disappointed. In one tiny stretch of the Stoke Newington Road there is the brilliant and ever popular Mangal 2, the unpronounceable but apparently very highly regarded Istanbul Iskembecisi, and the cryptically titled 19 Numara Bos Cirrik I, where I spent a thoroughly enjoyable Monday evening.


You know there is some real talent in a kitchen when even something as straightforward as house hummus draws gasps of approval. It was, in fact, the finest example of this humble dish I've had in a very long time - light and smooth, seasoned perfectly and astonishingly fresh. A generous round of lahmacun (sort of a Turkish pizza for want of a better description) was straight out of the oven and lovely and crisp, and cost a pathetic £2; amazing value. And even a plate of yoghurt and cucumber did its job commendably well, cooling the soft house bread and tasting bright and summery.


The only problem I had with the house salad "Esme" was that I wasn't sure how to eat it. Chopped and crushed and ground down so much (I watched them do it) it had turned into a kind of Turkish gazpacho, and the flat plate it came on was hugely impractical. But, needless to say, it was seasoned well, tasted great, and was a lovely colour from the tomatoes and fresh parsley. And while perhaps not quite up there with the version at FM Mangal in Camberwell (and I doubt anything ever could be), the pomegranate and onion pickle was still hugely addictive. The Esme was £4 and the onion pickle was free. Crazy.



Deep fried I think rather than grilled, the halloumi wasn't 19NBC's greatest creation, but tempered with the onion pickle it had crunch and enough salty cheesy goodness to make it worth the effort. And around this time yet another free salad arrived, just a straightforward mix of tomatoes, lettuce, onion and cabbage dressed in olive oil and parsley but still, they went to the effort of making it for us and didn't even charge. The generosity of spirit is heartwarming.



Lamb behti kebabs came served on house bread soaked up the meat juices and soft brown rice. The kebabs themselves were top-drawer, moist and rich and seasoned perfectly, and there was a huge amount of meat here for £9.50. Part of the reason our bill was so low could have been that this was the only significant meat dish we ordered, but as it was midsummer (and 19NBC has no air conditioning, so be warned) we didn't really feel like anything too heavy.


With two beers, a Ribena (don't ask) and as much iced tap water as you could want, the bill came to just £40 for 4 people. All four of us left stuffed, happy and with kebab juice staining our clothing (well OK that might have just been me) and with nothing, other than perhaps the raging heat, to complain about. It is hard not to get complacent when you're tucking into another great Turkish grill and paying a pittance for it, but the astonishing quality and value of so many of these places should not distract for a second from the effort and skill that must go into running them. 19 Numara Bos Cirrik I is Yet Another Great Ocakbasi, and I will never get bored of eating there.

8/10

19 Numara Bos Cirrik on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

Richard said...

Crumbs. That's lunch sorted for my day off on Friday...

Tim 31.75 said...

Didn't think it was up to much myself, but might have been at different branch

Conor - Hidden Palette said...

It is very hard to go too far wrong with any of the Turkish grills in this part of London, but this one along with 19 Numara Bos Cirrik II (opposite Church St at the other end of Stoke Newington High St) are the two standouts in my opinion. Mangal Number 2 is pretty amazing too.

Ben said...

Looks good. Humous not Turkish though unless you count tourist restaurants in Istanbul and maybe some of Hatay

Piers said...

I'm incredibly lazy and consider anything past Sonq Que on the Kingsland Road as North of Shoreditch... Where do you recommend in Shoreditch, Turk-wise?

Chris said...

Piere: Pera is OK, but I reckon the best round there is Tas Firin.

gastrogeek said...

Love the cirrik. Sounds like you had quite the feast! Am also partial to the odd late night kebab from Hasan (they give you a nice cup of mint tea while you wait and everything).

Sharmila said...

19 Numara is my favourite ocakbasi and has been for many years. Their lamb ribs are amazing. They have a sister branch at the start of Green Lanes in Newington Green which is also good. Have been wondering if the new place opened up by Hackney Central is part of this mini empire too.

Eva Lai said...

Cool, nice to know there're good Turkish restaurants around. I didn't notice them before. Unpronounceable eh? I am, of course, trying (struggling) to get my head round Czech on a day-to-day basis. What describes / comments on Hong Kong here perfectly, in Czech, is: Z jakého důvodu propadá většina lidských bytostí neúprosné honbě za (z holistického pohledu zcela irelevantními, protože pomíjivými) hodnotami konvenčního světa, jako moc, status nebo peníze? Oh and I quite like handwritten receipts, I don't mind them being untechnological, anyone else?

Anonymous said...

The owner is very fanatical. He does not like Jamaican girls and he does not like Turks. he is little bit too political for his Kurdish cause.