The Bookshop on the Heath has interesting books about Turkey in its windows. Never read The Eunuch of Stamboul, but according to this blog post, looks like an entertaining read. Apparently it was also made into a film in 1936, which can be viewed for free at the BFI’s Mediatheque.
Speaking of Turkey, Blackheath’s dabbling with Turkish food has come to a close. Not a huge surprise given some of the competition nearby. It was never a great place, as many of the reviews here have mentioned. Will Cote be any better?
As mentioned in a previous post, the restaurant next to Buenos Aires Cafe has turned into Fistik Kebab Brasserie. Leaving aside whether “kebab” and “brasserie” should ever appear next to each other, the food is actually not bad.
We went last weekend (Mrs Bugle and myself, plus another Turkish friend). The meze (hot and cold small dishes – not necessarily starters), were fine, and the kebab (I’m told) was nice too. The decor still looks a little unfinished in places, and they’ve kept the large-breasted statues that were a “feature” of the previous incarnation.
On the whole though, it’s a big improvement. The music was pleasant, gentle, slightly melancholic Turkish pop songs floating in the background, and if you sit looking towards the Bookshop on the Heath, you can see all of village life wander by. The service was friendly, but not over-friendly. We asked for Turkish coffee, but they didn’t have any – they promised that they’d get some in soon, but the espresso was fine.
The prices were reasonable – much cheaper than Chapters or Buenos, pretty much comparable to Pizza Express or Giraffe. It’s not the most amazing Turkish restaurant in London (Hazev in Canary Wharf or Tas Pide by the Globe Theatre are better), but it’s really great to have one in Blackheath. As it was lunchtime, we didn’t check to see whether they sell Rakı, but we’ll hopefully go back one evening to double-check. Wandering past the place today, it looked much busier than the previous restaurant ever did. I wonder if they’ll remove the dots from “Fıstık” eventually…
I turn my back for two minutes (one week), and the whole of Blackheath is unrecognisable… Well, OK, they’re doing up Gregg’s, there appears to be a World War One re-enactment of The Somme setting up next to Blackheath Cars, and the dodgy restaurant up at the top, near the really good restaurant has been renamed.
So, one by one:
Gregg’s isn’t being closed for excessive MSG usage, instead it’s being given a shiny new fascia. See this PDF at Lewisham council for all the gory details. No illuminated signs, and no mention of whether they’ll keep making Vegetable Slices (don’t tell Mrs Bugle).
Roadworks next to the station
At last, the mess next to the traffic lights appears to be getting better, but instead has been replaced by a massive amount of pipe-laying as you walk towards the farmer’s market.
Fıstık Kebab Brasserie Restaurant
Note the absence of dots above the “i” in Fıstık, means that it pronounced “er” as in “shirt”, not “i” as in “shift”. Fıstık means peanut in Turkish. It’s also a term of endearment used by men to women. I imagine it really isn’t something you’d want to find inside a kebab. More importantly, the conjunction of the words Kebab and Brasserie probably shouldn’t appear in the same sentence, and fill me (and Mrs Bugle) with apprehension. Time will tell!
Any excuse to re-use this picture. The Italian restaurant next to Pizza Express, il Bertorelli, is being closed, and a Giraffe restaurant is appearing in its place. I don’t actually ever remember visiting this place – not for any good reason, but it simply never seemed to be the right time. I guess Pizza Express was better for pizzas, and Buenos Aires Cafe is (much much) better for pasta (and anything else for that matter).
The photo above is from Giraffe’s twitter account. They also have a PR firm who are doling out free dinners on the opening night, to anyone who fancies it.
I’ve been to a Giraffe restaurant once, on the South Bank. I hope the one in Blackheath is a better experience. I guess there won’t be as many tourists, and perhaps fewer screaming children (although Blackheath’s Pizza Express always seems to manage to have a few screamers).
My overriding sense of Giraffe on the South Bank was “World Music and Burgers”, in other words, middle-class fast food. It’s disingenuous. It looks all fresh and healthy, but it’s really about burger-shovelling. And if you want a great article about the rise of middle-class fast food, I urge you to read this (he’s talking about GBK, not Giraffe it should be pointed out):
Even though a posh cheeseburger contains roughly 805 calories, compared with 490 calories in a Big Mac, there’s no shame attached to the public enguzzlement of Gourmet Burgers, partly because of the emphasis on fresh ingredients, but mainly because it’s a thoroughly middle-class form of indulgence… So, then. It seems the key to nurturing a successful chain of fast-food restaurants in modern Britain is to provide a less reprehensible version of something popular … while still enabling your customers to indulge in potentially ruinous gluttony.
Ultimately, we’re just swapping one large chain of restaurants for another, but with a slightly higher calorie count.
Filed under blackheath, food
As suggested by Ann, I had a look at the Blackheath Village Residents Group website, and sure enough, there is information about the fate of Momo Franks. A request has been made to Lewisham Council, to open a “Village Food & Wine” shop…. There’s nothing especially “villagey” about these shops, in the same way that Shepherd Foods doesn’t sell sheep, pasties and sheepdogs, and Cost Cutters really won’t cut your costs… It’s more of a convenience store – see the Greenwich one for an example:
If you had any strong feelings on the matter, and felt like telling Lewisham council, now is too late, as the closing date was 17th August. I’d have hoped that PlanningAlerts.com
would have mentioned it, but perhaps I need to tweak my settings a litte.
The rather lovely neon sign next to the Library in Blackheath. I think there are only two neon signs in the whole of Blackheath – the one above, and the Thai restaurant next door (“Lai Cram”, which I have never been to, and keep saying that I should).
I really like this sign for some reason. It looks very stylish to me, even though I’d hate there to be any more neon lighting up the high street, I’m glad it is there. It is one of the very few great bits of typography in Blackheath, along with The Travel Lounge, which appears to be closing down.
Photo take by Flickr user Bellefox Rendezvous, who has a whole set of Blackheath pics.
Still haven’t made it into the new version of Chapter Two, now called Chapters All Day Dining. It looks very nice from the outside, and the menu looks… well, er, cheaper! Which I guess is good news… Is this is a credit crunch decision? Have they dropped the quality and gone down market? It doesn’t look that way from the outside, and I’m away for a week, so will not be able to let you know for a little while yet…
I’m looking forward to finding out – let me know if you have anything to say!
Never did win that trip to New York…
Now, it might be total hearsay (all my best posts usually are), but having asked one of the decorators in the place next door, he says that The Laughing Buddha is going to turn into an Indian Restaurant. Which is a bit of a shame to be honest – there are quite a few already, some very good, and many reasonable. But there was only one other Chinese place. Oh well, if anyone can confirm it, please let me know.
The photo was taken by me, through the only bit of window that wasn’t all smeared up with that white stuff that shops use to cover up glass. There used to be a sign up saying “temporarily closed for renovations”, but it seems to have been taken down now.
It looks as though The Laughing Buddha has finally stopped laughing. The Chinese restaurant, which is next to Chapter Two seems to be closed. The sign says for refurbishment works, but I’m not sure. It seems like a bit of a coincidence that both places are shutting up shop at the same time… Maybe Chapter Two are expanding into the Buddha’s space? I hope it isn’t closing, as I never even got a chance to go in there – I’d always intended to but never quite had the right moment.
Tried the Taste of Raj for the first time the other night, and was pleasantly surprised! I think we’d avoided it for a while, as the Mountain View and Everest Inn were closer to us. Also, it always looked empty whenever I walked past, which is usually a bad sign.
But actually, it was much nicer than the food I’ve had from the other two curry places in Blackheath. Not so keen on the food at Mountain View, and the service at the Everest Inn tends to be a bit erratic.
I think the reason Taste of Raj always looks empty is due to a seating area towards the rear of the restaurant that isn’t visible from outside.
We had the (vegetarian) tandoori paneer, vegetable thali, poppadoms, and chipati, all of which were very nice, and probably too much for two people. We had a slightly dead-looking rose on our table, but the service was quick and helpful – our orders were scribbled down, and dropped into a drain-pipe next to the bar (which presumably goes to the kitchen!).
Anyway, a pleasant surprise – cheaper, more local, and more interesting than another Bombay Bicycle take-away.
9 Royal Parade, Blackheath Village, Blackheath London SE3.
Tel: 0181 244 2823.
Open from noon to 2.30pm – 6pm to Midnight all week. Google Map here.