Today, I would like to start off with an apology – a mea culpa if you like.
The title of this post is massively inaccurate.
To me, “new” would mean one of two things – either new as in “upcoming, or imminent”, as in “Hey Frank, have you heard that there’s a new limited edition Beanie Baby coming out”, or new could mean a recently created thing, as in “Hey Bobby, have you been to the new local planning office? I hear it’s pretty wild” – but “new” seldom means something which, as it turns out, has been out for months but I only found out about it last week.
This being said: If I’d not heard about their new menu, and I speak as someone who (generally) pays attention to such matters, then there’s a good chance others haven’t either, so I’ll continue as if it were new. New to me, and maybe you too, who knows?
Anyway – the new menu at German Doner Kebab! GDK have been around in the UK for a few years now – I first visited, and subsequently reviewed, a GDK in south London nearly five years ago – and the chain have had a branch in the old Odeon on Renfield Street for just over three years – recently expanding to the West End (which I where I went, folks). In this time, the menu hasn’t really changed all that much – I suppose there’s been tinkering with the sides here and there, but the core menu has practically stayed the same. This is good to an extent – arguably, why change a winning formula? – but without change places lose their appeal, so it’s always good to shake things up from time to time.
I first became aware of the new menu when GDK emailed me – I’m on their mailing list but they don’t write all that often, and the email said this:
“Ooh”, I thought. This could actually be a real game changer! You see, I like kebabs (this much I assume you’ve already gathered), but they’re an evening meal in my book. The panini, however – that’s lunch. Could I be tempted to pop in on a lunch break for one of these? Well, if I wasn’t working from home, almost certainly. But wait… there’s more? You see, whilst doing my homework on this (i.e. reading the website), I noticed another new addition to the menu – what they call the “Doner 2.0” menu – the Berlin Strasse. What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is the lahmacun wrap but with chips, doner and salad in the middle – GDK already do a durum wrap – but not with chips. Clearly they want a piece of the lucrative gyros market, but in their own unique way.
I decided that I would be as well trying both, so I did. Renfield Street, I’m reliably informed, is temporarily shut, so I headed out west to Byres Road to get me dinner. In the words of Radiohead – this is what you get…
Bizarrely, about 15 minutes after ordering in a relatively empty restaurant, the two new menu items made their way to my table, on separate trays. There was a lot happening in the kitchen, however – I got the distinct impression that the priority was delivery orders and the like. Nonetheless, I dug in…
First off, the panini. I know that promo shots are always way more impressive than what you actually end up with, but I was massively underwhelmed with this. Here’s a photo!
This was one unhappy sandwich. Don’t let the lack of scorch marks fool you, this definitely had been flattened in some kind of a sandwich press – I just don’t imagine it had been in there all that long. It wasn’t cold cold, but it wasn’t all that hot either – and that was just the bread. The meat (of which, I’m sad to report, there wasn’t much of) wasn’t all that warm either, but that was ok, because you couldn’t really taste it anyway, because of the abundance of cheese, onion, and the two garlic sauces. Weirdly, if there had been a smidgen of red sauce in here, it may have improved the flavour somewhat, but I was pretty underwhelmed, all things considered. A nice cheese savoury toastie this would have made, but not a doner panini.
However – you can’t win ’em all, and I had a back up plan – the Berlin Strasse. Here’s everyone’s favourite view of the inside, bought to you from the perspective of my face:
Now, this is more like it! Alas my camera phone could well do with a trip to Specsavers – apologies for the blurriness, but this was an improvement (on paper at least) – the Lahmacun is rolled up, so the fact that this looks like mostly wrap and little filling is kinda priced in based on what it is. However – there were the promised chips, the meat was there and more generous than the panini – and tomatoes, onions and the like. Overall, this was tastier. Couple of drawbacks – much like the panini, it wasn’t as warm as I would have liked – and again, this is both the wrap itself and the ingredients. Notably, the chips weren’t all that warm.
What I didn’t expect was that the Berlin Strasse also came with an additional challenge – being a wrap, you’d like to think that eating these would be straight forward. No need for cutlery – it’s self enclosed, eat with your hands, job done?
As I began to peel back the metallic paper (presumably the metallic paper was there to keep it warm?), it became apparent that the wrap inside had fused to the paper.
I tried in vain to remove it… but this just evidently made it worse.
The intention wasn’t to give you all a forensic level deep dive into the wraps contents – but here we are.
Luckily it was only one part of the wrap that had managed to somehow get stuck to the wrapping, but you get the jist.
Now, I would say that despite the hiccup, it was all in all rather pleasant, though awkward to eat at this point.
I’ve never previously had a bad experience with GDK, and for my money the “classic” menu is still one of the best on the high street – the regular kebabs in the waffle bread are a real treat, and the doner gym box is a lifesaver for those on a diet (more on that in a future post!) – and I’ll continue to visit sporadically – mainly in the hope that if I do order these again, I can update this review with better news! However, when it comes to Doner 2.0… I might just wait until they release the Doner 2.1 patch before trying these again.
German Doner Kebab, branches across the UK, reviewed was Glasgow – Byres Road.
Doner Panini – £4, 4/10
Berlin Strasse – £5, 6/10