Flaming Nora is the latest incarnation of the current trend for fresh and healthy fast food.
But Fresh and Wild is all a bit 'nappy valley' for our tastes and there's never one around when you need one, and Leon isn't exactly post-pub faire...and that's where Flaming Nora fits in.
Set up about four months ago, the idea for Flaming Nora came about because one of the guys behind the restaurant loved kebabs but could never get his girlfriend to go into a kebab house. The answer? A clean, stylish fast food restaurant with fresh ingredients, friendly staff and no sweaty, revolving 'elephant's leg'.
Now, we have to admit at being a little sceptical about all this before we made a trip to Upper Street to sample Flaming Nora for ourselves. Kebabs have their place in English culture, just like Ginsters pies and Pot Noodles. So why try and posh them up?
The good news is, that isn't what Flaming Nora does. This is still a kebab house, it's just a kebab house you might want to go back to. Which is no bad thing.
More photographs and a proper review of the grub after the jump.
Londonist visited Flaming Nora on a Thursday night. We had a couple of drinks in the Jorene Celeste and then made the 5 minute walk up the road to the restaurant (just opposite the Town Hall).
The first thing that hits you is how clean the place is. The walls are white and spotless, it doens't smell greasy and there's no empty chip cartons on the floor. This is a tight ship they're running here.
On your right as you walk is a counter with a few stools for those who prefer to eat in, plus a fridge with an impressive selction of pop, and one of those new fangled digital jukeboxes (you have to pay to use it, but it was emitting a decent selction all by itself while we were there).
Then there's the grill area which is your pretty standard setup, except there's an impressive ventilation system whisking away any smoke from the large open grill. And what a grill! Big and clean and smelling of summer barbecues. Plus a separate grill for vegetarian stuff and no revolving slab of meat in the corner.
The menu looks pretty normal at first glance: donner and shish, lamb and chicken...but there's also a salmon shish and a veg shish on offer, plus other choices such as a steak sandwich and good old burgers.
But kebabs are what we're here to eat so kebabs is what we'll have! The three-strong Londonist party (two-thirds female and only occasional kebab-eaters) decides on one lamb doner, one lamb shish and one chicken shish. We all upgrade to a 'meal deal' so that means we get a drink and a choice of chips, onion rings or potato wedges to go along with the kebab...and then we have to choose our sauce!
We can choose from a long list of 'sauce pots' which includes the old staples: ketchup, chilli and garlic, as well as lemon & herb, teriyaki, yoghurt & mint and American mild mustard.
So here's what we get:
Meal 1: Chicken shish with american mild mustard, chips and coke.
Meal 2: Lamb shish with chilli and garlic sauce, wedges and coke.
Meal 3: Lamb Donner with chill and yoghurt & mint sauce, plus chips and a Dr Pepper.
First things first: the chips are great! Chunky and fluffy, these are just like your mum makes, none of these greasy, anorexic 'fries'. Then there's the kebab. Fresh meat cooked right in front of us (we sat right next to the grill at the back of the shop) and placed in a warmed pitta along with freshly chopped iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber...and not forgetting the pickled chilli of course (you can't mess with the classics).
Be warned - the chilli sauce is HOT. Unles you've got a taste for that kind of thing you might be better offsetting it with one of the milder dressings. But if chilli sauce isn't hot what's the point of chilli sauce eh? The American mild mustard gets two thumbs up also.
All in all, the Londonist party gave the food an average of 8 out of 10. The general concensus was that the meat "tasted clean" and the portions were just right, no skimping on ingredients and we were all stuffed by the end of it.
Though we were too full for pudding, there is a decent selction for anyone with a sweet tooth: brownies and mini doughnuts for example, as well fresh fruit for the health conscious(!).
There's also a 'drugstore' section which includes chocolate bars in retro-styled glass jars, as well as chewing gum, cookies, Rizla, cigarettes and even condoms.
So how much did it cost? Well, the two shish meals came to a very reasonable £5.50 each and the lamb doner was even cheaper at £5. That's £16 for three meals in a clean environment with some decent music (and even the toilet was pretty impressive).
Now, we don't normally do this, but as we liked Flaming Nora so much we contacted the managment and told them that we were running a review of the place (turns out they did wonder why we were taking so many photographs), and they asked us if we'd like to run a BOGOF offer on the site (that's 'buy one get one free' in case you were wondering).
So if you click here then you can print out a voucher which entitles you to a free meal at Flaming Nora up until the end of June 2005. Just to be clear: this isn't sponsorship, we're not getting money for this, we just really liked the place and couldn't see any reason not to share the wealth!
Flaming Nora, 77 Upper Street, Islington N1. Tel: 0845 TEL NORA (0845 835 6672).