There’s a first time for everything in the London restaurant industry. The latest surprise announcement from the centre of the city is that a kebab tasting menu restaurant — one serving a seven-course set — will open in Covent Garden next month, as reported by Big Hospitality.
A former sous chef at the Roux brothers’ Michelin-starred Le Gavroche, Manu Canales, together with Stephen Tozer and Ed Brunet, will open Kebab Queen, a spin-off — or rather a quasi-fine dining version — of that trio’s “family of modern gourmet kebab restaurants.” It Joins Le Bab in Kingly Court and Maison Bab in Covent Garden. Guests will enter this new kitchen counter dining experience through a door within the Maison Bab prep kitchen.
Onlookers are told that Canales “has explored modern, European-influenced kebabs with prelude restaurants Le Bab and Maison Bab.” Kebab Queen is an evolution of those restaurants and a culmination of his research. “After four years of careful development, Manu will lead their most adventurous and ambitious opening.”
The chef’s credentials are set out thus: “Manu’s love for the flavours of kebab, cultivated during his trips across Turkey and beyond, combine with his rigorous Michelin training to create a seven-course tasting menu.”
Guests will not just eat but — seated on one of ten “luxurious, cobalt blue, leather-clad stools” be “led through” dishes from the open kitchen. An “uninhibited approach to dining” is being encouraged: “Guests will rip, tear and eat with their hands, in a ritual that pays homage to late-night kebabs,” today’s announcement said.
Behind what is described as “the illuminated facade of a classic British kebab shop,” Canales will cook on a custom wood-fired grill, before plating each dish directly onto a bespoke, heated Dekton countertop. In other words, there won’t be any plates and presumably a lot of mess. A sort of baby-led weaning for adults. Designer Angus Buchanan has ensured that the stainless steel walls are “accentuated” by pastel pink curtains and a pink tiled concrete floor. Because, well, this.
Slightly at odds with the general speakeasy vibe, the whole menu has been released ahead of time. It includes the following:
- Two starters — including the ‘foie gras kebabito’ — a small portion of barbecued foie gras.
- Next, the “British” doner kebab is refashioned as a ‘doner risotto’, which uses an “intense” lamb jus, “classic garnishes” and bits of lamb tongue.
- For the fish course (?), a chargrilled “shish” kebab of monkfish, monkfish liver, and chicken skin, which will be plated onto a charred cabbage leaf.
- “Main”: rum-aged spit-roast fesenjan duck, a take on the Iranian stew, and therefore served with a crust of crisp Persian rice, pomegranate, and walnuts.
- To finish, ‘Got Milk?’ — “an ode to Manu’s childhood” by way of freshly baked, sticky milk buns filled with caramelised cream, topped with crème fraiche sorbet.
“Kebab Queen is the pinnacle of our project. The piquancy, umami and smokiness of the kebab really lend themselves to reinterpretation,” Canales offered. “We’re creatively pairing Middle Eastern flavours with meticulous and classic technique. But we want you to relax and get stuck in; it’s about combining the intense flavours of high end dining with the communal, elbow-to-elbow fun of the kebab shop.”
The trio are at pains to stress their brands are not “a kebab rescue mission,” that they don’t wish to “elevate” the food, but it’s hard not to wonder what kind of culinary world view sees “Middle Eastern flavours” and “meticulous and classic technique[s]” as mutually exclusive.