The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 ★
I perhaps wouldn’t go here during the day, nor sober.
I have walked past The CKH many times but have never ventured in. This could be due to the subtle frontage. The typography is superb and I’ve no doubt the logo was deliberated over for some time. For instance: a donor spit cunningly replaces the ‘L’ in ‘Capital’. This really is very clever. Were it not for this, and the shop-front been entirely glass, one might never know this place was here.
Another reason I’ve never been here is that I always thought it was more of a dinner restaurant. I must confess how wrong I am, for it is quite clear on the awning outside that an all-day-breakfast is served. One assumes, then, that they are open for lunch too. I can only image that this is a very fine ‘full-English’, perhaps served with sausages bought at the nearby Royal Festival Hall Food Market (Friday to Monday if you fancy popping down between kebabs).
Sandwiched between The Old Vic Theatre and The Young Vic you might have suspected that a pre-dinner menu would be offered. To my bemusement this was lacking. I ought to have perhaps let the proprietor know that the opposition – Ristorante Olivelli – just next-door offer two-courses for £10.95 and is outwitting him. However the pricing here warrants that no further offers be proposed: 6 wings (I’m assuming Chicken) for just £2.00 sounds like a great offer – but the team go the extra mile here – you can opt to add chips for just 80p more. Who needs a pre-theatre menu?
It is at this point that I have a confession to make. I did not go here ‘pre-theatre’. Rather: after pub at well past midnight. I hadn’t done too much pre-visit research and have had to contact the restaurant since to ask questions such as ‘Specifically from what part of the world does your menu originate?’, ‘What is the name of your Executive Chef?’ and ‘In what year did the restaurant first open?’ Unfortunately none of the answers were… clear (It’s a good job you don’t have to ring up to book a table here) and so I’m working with what little I’ve got. It was opened in 1994, but fear not, a new menu was introduced but four years ago sprouting the infamous dishes of Turkey and Greece such as ‘Chicken Kofte Kebab’ (Lrg: £6.00), ‘Meat, Rice & Drink’ (£6.00) and… ‘Steak & Kidney Pie’ (£2.00).
As I step into the well lit restaurant I am greeted by the Maitre D’ who surprisingly is next to the Executive Chef in the open-kitchen; they all get stuck in here and show real team spirit. The open kitchen is something that has been enthusiastically adopted by some of the highest quality modern restaurants in London (see my Dinner by Heston review) but it started here first.
A quick check with Companies House tells me that the proprietor is a Mr Veli Benul who bought the only share in Capital Kebab Ltd. on 12th June 2014 for just £1 (He’s yet to release his key financials). I have requested him on Facebook but my invitation is yet to be accepted.
I sat at the chef’s table (just opposite the open kitchen), which is actually a bar with some stools, and perused the menu. Only soft drinks are served here and nothing is mentioned about corkage so we move straight to the mains. I ordered (direct with the chef – skip out the middle man) a Lamb Donor, which is served on pita bread with chips and sauce. The pita is topped with a generous heap of crispy chips and then the chef (I still don’t know his name I’m afraid) looks up at me. He is indicating that I have a choice of sauces. This is fantastic. It effectively means that you could come to The Capital Kebab House many times and have a different experience from your donor on every occasion. I opt for both chilli and garlic sauces. He tops this with (freshly) sliced donor from the rotating upright spit behind him (these really are a sight) before topping with even more sauce.
Through some swinging doors a large area of perhaps fifteen tables with double the seats greets me. Unfortunately however, I decline this inviting opportunity and go to take my seat in the back of the waiting uber. (I did ask Shiraz if he would like some chips or even (cheeky) a donor himself but he politely declined – one suspects only for religious reasons and even then he must have been tempted. Away we sped back to leafy suburbia; a handy polystyrene box on my knees.
And so to the food. Well. I am sad to say that the lamb did not match my previous expectations. It was perhaps greasier than the coiffeur of a northern townie; no less repugnant than Katy Hopkins in a Magaluf massage parlour. It was utterly dire. By the time I got to the chips they were as sodden as Lee Evans in concert and ending up with a lonely pita at the bottom is about as much use as a sunbed on Bali. It was an utterly dire experience.
Except: the sauces were really rather special. In fact the homemade chilli sauce was so utterly superb that I mixed it into the beer that I had previously spilt down my favourite shirt in the pub I’d just stumbled from. By mixed I mean ‘also spilt’; and by homemade I mean ‘from the dodgy cash and carry’.
So as suspected on first entering: this is just like any other kebab shop on any other high street.
Would I go back here? Unfortunately, absolutely, bloody… probably yes. Although I perhaps wouldn’t go here during the day, nor sober – It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Price: £5.80 plus £60 for a new shirt.