Iskender Kebab at Kilis Kitchen (with a spider on my head)

There is a question that I have long asked myself; Will anyone care if I go to dinner with a spider on my head? Not a real spider of course (ew, shudder) no, a glam sparkly spidey fascinator sitting jauntily atop my crown.

I was determined to find out eventually, and so I found myself running up the street, spider travelling at the same speed; late to meet friends for dinner and just a little bit drunk. “This is different’” they say as I wind my way over to them, followed by “Do you know there is a spider on your head? And then – “ How much have you had to drink?”

We have met at the station, deciding to forgo the planning and eat where our feet take us. Wandering Upper Street we survey our options “Chinese?”, “Can’t do it – I’ve had it for lunch the last two days…” “What about the paella place?”, “I find it a bit bland and twee…”, “Wahaca?”, “Nah” Shrug. Winding our way past the meh, not tonight, and I’d like to try there next time’s we eventually stumble upon Kilis. “Mediterranean?” We ask each other. Yes, that we can handle.

The first thing I notice as I walk in to the restaurant is the size of the plates, they are enormous, and generously filled. The people consuming their content see me looking and look back quizzically, one eye on me, the other on Spidey… I continue quickly on to our table…

We order the Balon Bread (puffy bread) with butter; It’s delicious! And the mixed mezze dips (Humos, Casik, Mutabbal and Kisir served with toasted bread) which are standard fare that I happily gobble up. Also kibbeh (bulger wheat kofte stuffed with mince meat, pistachios and walnuts). It’s tasty, but not like I remember, it’s flavoursome, but the outside shell is quite wet and for me not crunchy enough. I am missing the juxtaposition between the soft inner, crunchy outer textures.

When it’s time to order my main I get overwhelmed by the extensive menu and panic order the Iskender Kebab (char grilled kofte on crispy bread topped with specially prepared tomato sauce, yogurt and butter sauce). I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty great, though I do find myself hunting for the bits of meat among the bread and then leaving the bread behind, simultaneously feeling like I have failed the dish. It’s the kind of thing that I would enjoy more sharing with another person, but by myself, it’s all a bit much; and that’s the thing about this sort of food, I really do feel that the nature of it, the very culture surrounding it has intended for it to be shared. I have to make a note to share everything next time.

Well sated and another third of a bottle down, I trundle off home; and what you may ask was the outcome of me wearing a spider on my head? It was brilliant. I enjoyed and reveled in every minute of it. Alas, it was London on Halloween eve, I suspect I’m the only one that cared.

Kilis Kitchen – 4 Theberton Street, Islington, London, N1 0QX – visit their website HERE

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