And so to e.mono, the little place on Kentish Town Road with charming Victorian signage (which could date back as far as 1872).
Rightly praised by many readers in our Best New Opening and even Best Evening Meal categories (‘really great value quality food,’ said ND; ‘it’s a glowing haven in the dark and the kebabs are flipping lovely,’ said Fiona), this tiny joint enjoyed an X Factor fame-booster on Christmas Eve when local boy Giles Coren decided to devote his double page Times Magazine column to its delights.
‘The owner, Michael, he wrote, ‘whose dad was in the kebab business for 54 years, is determined to turn round the reputation of kebabs in this country, and makes all his kebabs on site (the elephant legs, too) from fresh, not frozen British meat, and uses exclusively free-range chicken. Free-range! It’s unheard of.’
And you can imagine how our Twitter twittered after that. In fact, let me tell you right here that Mrs Kentishtowner, marooned in Norfolk on a festive family visit, was writhing in disbelief that she – yes, she, of all people! – still hadn’t eaten there. And we’re not kidding when we say she was that close to driving back to NW5 for a mid-holiday chicken doner.
Upon our return she was straight out the door and marching towards the high street, where Coren’s feature now sits in pride of place in the window. The smiling boys behind the counter admitted it has been great for business.
From a blackboard menu listing just three items each in two categories (‘Doner’ and ‘Kebab’), we chose one chicken and one lamb (both doner, £3.99). Both were succulent and flavoursome, with Mrs KT appreciating the rocket and garlic in the chicken, but in the end the lamb taking top marks with its very full, fatty flavour. And not a soggy pitta in sight. ‘Next time we’ll try a kofte,’ she enthused, licking her fingers.
‘E. Mono. Remember the name. With its heritage-proclaiming beauty, its haiku-simple menu, its on-trend smallness, lack of a telephone (eat your heart out, Spuntino), and its up-and-coming inner-city location, it is without question the hippest place to be seen at the moment. It takes such theoretically hard-core fashionable places as Duck Soup (reviewed here next), Mishkin’s (reviewed here last week) and Meat Liquor (so cool I don’t even know where it is) and blanks them with the coolness and reserve of an 8ft supermodel. This is, without question, the coolest restaurant of the turning year.’
The only point we would make that, alas, it’s not a restaurant yet. Not really. However, the boys revealed exclusively that they ‘plan to open one downstairs, it’s all about cash flow.’ (We would suggest dark lighting, stools at the bar, and ale provided by nearby Camden Town Brewery.)
But for now, help them on their way by binning the new year’s diet and form an orderly queue.
e.mono: even the greaseproof paper is stylish
287 Kentish Town Road (no website or phone).
Have you been to e.mono? Go on, share your thoughts. Oh, and Happy New Year and all that.
Words & pics: Stephen Emms
Got lamb doner - amazingly good, lovely fresh salad too.
Next time I'm only eating half. I certainly don't need to eat today – I am still totally full!
Really delicious. The chicken schwarma elevated to a ridiculously delicious level. We are addicted to something we would never normally eat. Stylish packaging, beautiful shopfront, friendly staff and completely delicious food.
Went to E Mono after having read all the reviews here and on other sites. We had the lamb and chicken doner, none of which was especially nice. Meat was on the dry side on both orders. The portions are big, yes, but nothing too flavourful. Won't be coming back in the near future. Not the cheapest either, and for the quality, overpriced in my opinion.
Wow just taken my kids, this was amazing so fresh, so moist and the most lovely garlic mint sauce. But chips were the other extreme Eeek just soggy soft sticks of white stuff.
Argh, staggered off the last tube last night only to find they were shut, had been looking forward to it all night...might have to justify it as a mid week dinner...
It’s one of the few kebab places that often crosses my mind whilst still the right side of 5 pints.
It really is very good, the meat is full of flavour and the salad range extensive. It’s nice they use wraps instead of trying to shovel the whole thing into a half burnt pitta bread.
Nice staff too – none of the girlfriend leering or writing their phone number on her napkin like a certain other place nearby.
I’m glad things are picking up for them, it never looks that busy to be honest.
Tasty kebabs. Hopefully we'll be seeing more restaurants moving to NW5 for the chance of an OTT Coren review.