Back last month when I hot footed it down to Sunderland to go to Doner Haus, I didn’t stop there. OH NO. One simply does not go to the North East of England to have only one kebab. Not when beer has been had, and one is in possession of an all-day Metro thinger. No. I wanted more! As pleasant as Doner Haus was, and I could have easily had two “ze Berliners” that day, (and, at some point, I will), no, time to go exploring.
Getting from Sunderland to Whitley Bay, as it turns out, is a piece of piss. 3 metro trains and a boat, lads. A quick note about Sunderland station, by the way. It’s weird. You know how like in London, you’ve got the train station upstairs, and the tube downstairs? Also, Newcastle, Glasgow (well, Partick), Manchester (trams are basically tubes), Liverpool (Merseyrail is basically a tube) and pretty much EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Not in Sunderland – the Metro and the regular trains are both underground, and leave from the same platforms, which is actually kinda cool if you like that sort of thing (and I like that sort of thing) – as I left, there was a big massive intercity London bound train on the one side, and my four carriage Metro back towards Newcastle on the other side.
The other thing I will mention, briefly, as I am thoroughly aware this isn’t a choo-choo blog, is that the Tyne and Wear Metro is similar to the Docklands Light Railway, in that you can sit up the front and pretend to drive the train. So I did. 35 years old, I am.
Change at Pelaw, train to South Sheilds, wander up the high street to the Ferry terminal, waited forever in the cold, got on boat, forgot to show ticket to Ferry guy, got weird looks from a bunch of pensioners, alighted at North Shields Ferry terminal, got lost, phone down to 10% battery, grudgingly used Google Maps, started walking in right direction, got to North Shields station, jumped on train, alighted three stops later up the line, and I was there. Whitley Bay! Told you it was a piece of piss.
“Why did you go to Whitley Bay?”
“Good question, one which I have already answered. To get a second kebab.”
“Yeah, but why Whitley Bay? I mean, Newcastle would have been the obvious choice, no?”
It’s a fair point, but this place I was going to came HIGHLY recommended. If you do a google for Aroos Beirut, it’s got a 5.5/6 rating on Just Eat, 5/5 on Google and 3.5/5 on TripAdvisor (more on them later) – and more importantly, @magicdarts on Twitter recommended them. Guys, if you tell me about a kebab shop anywhere in the British Isles, I will visit it. Christ, I’m off to North Berwick later to check out a kebab shop I was told about 12 years ago. It might be shit now – it might be closed now – but I couldn’t give a monkeys. Shawarma Police dot com. I live for this bollocks.
Aroos Beirut in Whitley Bay. A short walk from the Metro station towards the beach. Had it been a nice day, I’d have taken the food on to the beach, and stared at Norway for a bit. As the sky looked like it was about to burst into piss at any second, I figured the best bet would be to grab the food, head back to the station, and get a train towards Newcastle.
I walked into the shop, and I was the only customer there (it was about half three in the afternoon, so pretty standard). No-one behind the counter serving, though I could see a couple of guys in the back, they looked back at me, and it instantly went weird. I looked at the bloke nearest the counter with the expectation that he would walk over and say “hello, what would you like to order”. Instead, he just looked at me, presumably waiting for me to just start talking. “Erm, are you guys open?” was my opening gambit. “What can I get for you, my friend?” was the pleasant-but-still-weird reply. I ordered a lamb shawarma wrap. “Would you like the regular one, or the special shawarma?” I deliberated. What’s the difference, I asked? “Special comes with chips”. Ahh. I’ve had bad form with chips in a shawarma, so I gave that a swerve. “Regular, please.” The look of disapproval on this guys face! He didn’t quite stare at the floor, shake his head and tut, but it looked like he wanted to.
He wandered over to the spit with the chicken shawarma on, shaved a bit off, dipped it in his red spicy sauce, and handed it over as a sample, I guess. It was wonderful! Full of heat and also very aromatic, I have no idea what it was but it kind of reminded me of Tom Yam style sauce – as herby as it was spicy. “Very nice!” I said to the guy, who then gave me another disappointed look, and turned away. What the fuck was going on here? Had I entered the Twilight Zone?
He returned to the chicken shawarma. Now, this is important: Bear in mind that I had ordered the lamb. Perhaps this was a phoned in order, or an internet thing. Nope – shortly after, the guy returned to the counter with a chicken shawarma wrap for me. I handed over the money, and left for the station. This is what I got:
I mean, what I got served was actually fairly pleasant – the chicken was perhaps a little saltier than I’d have liked, but the creamy garlic sauce was possibly the best I’ve ever had, and the pickles were top notch – the overall taste has a slightly citric flavour which was really good… but it wasn’t what I’d ordered. Now, I have to take some responsibility here – I could have said to the guy that I’d ordered a lamb wrap and stood my ground, and while I’m at it I could have then asked for that red sauce which was sadly missing from the wrap I was given – but it was so bloody weird, all I really wanted to do was get the hell out.
Flicking through the Trip Advisor page, I begin to notice a common theme: I wasn’t the only one. Seems they have a habit of substitution, if the comments are anything to go by.
So how to rate them? I mean, what I got was above average without being spectacular – however if they’d got my order right and added some spicy sauce, it may well have been the best damn meal I’d ever had? God only knows. 7 seems about right, but then it was super weird, and then, as I was looking at the photo, I noticed it said “30% off before 5pm.” Now, given they never came good with that promise (though it was a very reasonable £3.50 for the chicken), I’m gonna take 30% off the score.
Aroos Beirut, South Parade, Whitley Bay, NE26