Almost as soon as we sat down in Tower Mangal a plate of warm bread was presented to Fiona and I, along with two dips: cacik and a hot, spicy one that caught me unawares as it hit the back of my throat, writes Michael Holland…
After a few minutes Urdi came over to introduce himself as the man taking care of us for the evening before asking if we would like more bread. As we refused he signalled for a large platter of salad to be brought; ‘We give the bread and salad free to all our customers,’ he said. We looked at it, then at each other, and so began a feast that we never thought would end.
The salad was beautifully presented and exquisitely dressed, so Fiona took a mental note when Urdi explained that the main ingredient in the dressing was pomegranate juice. While we continued working our way through, Urdi came with a Turkish pizza (Pide), describing the minced beef topping, spices and thin, crispy base. ‘This is fantastic for me,’ I beamed, ‘but Fiona is vegetarian.’
‘No problem,’ said the wonderful man who had taken over control of all my dietary needs. ‘Fiona, I have a special surprise for you.’ And it wasn’t long before Sigara Boregi arrived, feta cheese deep-fried in a filo pastry. These were light and crispy to the bite and then melted in the mouth. We were feeling quite full by now, but then Urdi returned and asked if we were ready to order! Ready to order? I was ready for a lay down on the nearest settee!
Anyway, we didn’t want to appear rude so my dining companion ordered stuffed vine leaves and a vegetable kebab. I dithered over the menu looking for something that wasn’t too heavy. ‘I have something special for you, Michael,’ said my new dietician. He then went on to paint a picture of meat, cheese and sauce that brought my taste buds back to life – Sarma Beyti. When these main courses arrived on plates the width of the table and Urdi told us they are the small plates, we knew we were in trouble! I managed about a third of mine and Fiona had a good go at her mountain of food.
It was now time to meet the family over Turkish tea (complementary). An uncle came and sat with us (He’d had the Tower Kebab House that was here before for over 20 years); dad was cooking in the kitchen, a cousin was on the grills, more uncles were prepping out the back, and other relatives were making themselves busy making this new venture a success.
After a while Fiona felt ready for a Rice Pudding, before Urdi brought two rich, Kermal Pasa (complementary) that really finished us off.
Tower Mangal has only been open for six weeks and already they have built a solid base of returning customers. It is easy to see why: the service is impeccable – No one leaves not feeling happy. We left smiling and with a bag of the lovely food we couldn’t eat.
Tower Mangal is unlicensed but you are welcome to take your own alcohol.
Sigara Boregi £4.50
Vine Leaves £3.50
Sarma Beyti £11.50
Vegetarian Kebab £8.50
Rice Pudding x 2 £6.90
Kermal Pasa x 2 £4.00
Sparkling Water x 2 £2.00
FOOD (1-5) 4
AMBIENCE (1-5) 3
VALUE (1-5) 4.5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET YES
55-57 Tower Bridge Road,